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Butler County residents to receive 150K free masks to fight coronavirus

The Butler County General Health District held a news conference on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, to discuss Gov. Mike DeWine's plan update. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF
The Butler County General Health District held a news conference on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, to discuss Gov. Mike DeWine's plan update. NICK GRAHAM / STAFF

Hours after Gov. Mike DeWine announced Butler County was a red-alert area Tuesday, requiring all residents to wear protective masks in public to slow the recent local spike in coronavirus cases, Butler County leaders announced 150,000 free masks will be available at local fire departments and businesses.

They said the day, time and location of the mask distribution will be made later this week.

Fairfield fire Chief Don Bennett, who attended today’s press conference at the Government Services Center, said how the masks will be handed out is in the “design phase.”

RELATED: Masks to be required in public throughout Butler County: What to know

Cindy Carpenter, Butler County commissioner, said “navigating this challenging time has been the top priority and the focus of our communities and leaders for the last several months.” The goal, she said, is to “preserve and protect” public health while keeping businesses “vibrant and thriving.”

Starting at 6 p.m. today, Butler County will be one of seven Ohio counties – including Hamilton and Montgomery counties in southwest Ohio — designated for the mandatory mask order for those out in public and unable to maintain social distancing from others.

Right after DeWine announced the mandate, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said “we are not the mask police,” and added he will not order his deputies to enforce DeWine’s orders. Police officials in Middletown and Fairfield echoed similar sentiments.

Masks are required when inside any location that is not a residence and when people are outside and unable to maintain a minimum distance of six feet apart from others who are not in their household.

Face masks must also be worn while waiting for and using public transportation, as well as taxis, ride-sharing vehicles or a private care service.

Butler County Health Commissioner Jennifer Bailer said she understands “masks are controversial,” but they’re the most efficient way to reduce the spread of COVID.

Bailer said Butler County set a one-day record when 45 residents tested positive for coronavirus. She said none of them has died. She has heard that the number of hospitalizations in the county are on the rise.