The Perry County Health Department knows our residents have sacrificed tremendously throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it is school, work, sports, or time spent with loved ones — everyone has made sacrifices. We understand that everyone wants life back to normal. We are not quite there yet.

The current order from Governor Mike DeWine still prohibits mass gatherings over 10 people except for the limited purposes permitted by the Orders of the Director of Health. All the Public Health Orders and Sector Specific Operating Guidance can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov. Certain operations and events remain closed under the mass gathering prohibition as part of Ohio’s plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Perry County Health Department fully understands and supports these orders. We must stop the spread of the novel-coronavirus; making small sacrifices now will help us get back to these events we all enjoy. We genuinely thank the event and festival coordinators who have already made the difficult decision to postpone or cancel their events for this year as we work together to prevent the spread.

We NEED and REQUEST everyone’s help. Even with events that are allowed, such as weddings and religious gatherings, we urge you to wear masks and maintain social distancing. If you oversee these events, it is your right and responsibility to require these precautions. Many investigations across Ohio are finding that COVID-19 exposures are linked back to informal events when people let their guard down.

Therefore, the Perry County Health Department publicly announces that events and mass gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited except for the limited purposes permitted by the Orders of the Director of Health. While past events have been held, some of these were not recommended or condoned by the health department. In some instances, guidance had changed during the planning of events and we appreciate everyone’s cooperation in making changes as required or cancelling when necessary.

In some circumstances, the Ohio Department Health and Governor DeWine have created specific guidance for events, such as fireworks and county fairs. These events could occur under strict precautions. The success of such precautions depended on the efforts of the event coordinators and planners, and their willingness to follow and enforce our public health suggestions. Since then, guidance relayed to county fairs has been modified.

The Perry County Health Department has been placed in a difficult position, as we have not before been asked to enforce orders of this magnitude. We appreciate your understanding as we continue to bring on additional employees to assist with the pandemic and follow the guidance provided by the Ohio Department of Health. We are learning more each day and continue to work with state and local partners to move forward.

Through a spirit of community cooperation, we can fight COVID-19. We too want to see our children safely return to school and sports. We want our residents to be able to attend family reunions and celebrate birthdays and milestones together — all without fear of contracting this serious illness. These can and will happen again if we can all work together now.

The Perry County Health Department is working to keep you healthy where you live, work and play. For more information on our programs contact us at 740-342-5179, like us on Facebook or visit our webpage at perrycountyhealth.info.

Deborah Raney is the Director of Health Education at the Perry County Health Department and a weekly contributor to The Perry County Tribune.

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