Ironton mayor declares state of emergency
On Thursday afternoon, Ironton Mayor Sam Cramblit gathered local officials in a mandatory meeting to tell them that he was declaring a state of emergency for the city that would limit large groups of people from gathering and eliminate visitors to nursing homes.
“The city will be issuing a state of emergency to stop and mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus,” he told the assembled group of city department heads, two county commissioners, local judges, the Lawrence County Health Department and others.
“What this means right now is we will include a limitation on public gatherings greater than 100, we will also instruct administrators of nursing homes in the city to limit visitations,” he said, adding that per Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, they are asked to limit it to one visitor per nursing home resident per day and exceptions can be made for end-of-life cases.
The governor’s order will require that these facilities screen all individuals at every point of entry, including employees, vendors, family members, etc.
Each individual will be screened for signs of illness and must submit to a temperature reading to gain entrance. All facilities will be required to keep a log of all who are admitted access.
“We are also mandating a no handshake policy citywide and requesting that we put signs on all businesses,” Cramblit said.
There have been five confirmed cases of the coronavirus is Ohio, although none are in the Tri-State area.
Georgia Dillon, the Lawrence County Health Commissioner, said they have investigated four cases in Lawrence County.
“We are waiting for the results of one person. Three cases have been negative,” she said. “And we are very thankful.”
Cramblit said that he would continue to talk to local officials and to keep the public informed on what is happening.
He said he would also be strongly encouraging business owners to provide protective gear to employees and to encourage the businesses to properly sanitize.
“All precautions will remain in effect until further notice,” Cramblit said. “But there can be changes as we move forward.”
City government offices will remain open at this time and the primary election on Tuesday at the Lawrence County Courthouse will go on as planned.
“But we do encourage early voting,” he said.
The Lawrence County Board of Elections already has a plan in effect to sanitize voting machines.
On Friday, early voting can be done 8 a.m.–7 p.m. On Saturday, the office is open from 8 a.m.–4 p.m. and on Sunday, the office is open from 1-5 p.m. The last day for early voting is Monday and voters can cast their ballot from 8 a.m.–2 p.m.
On Tuesday, the polling stations open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m.
Cramblit said in the coming days, he would be having daily conference calls with the health department and emergency centers and officials to keep monitoring the situation.
Ironton is not the first city in Ohio to declare an emergency as Cincinnati declared one on Wednesday evening.
Cramblit had been in Washington, D.C. for the past couple of days and met with officials from the World Health Organization, the CDC and Congress.
“The consensus is that it is going to get worse before it gets better,” he said. “It is important that we take precautionary steps and be proactive with this, rather than reactive once it hits, since it is inevitable.”
He also said he is working with the states of Kentucky and West Virginia, since this is a Tri-State region with a lot of travel.
“Because of the geographical location we are at, we need to be cautious,” Cramblit said.
Anyone that who thinks they may have contracted the coronavirus needs to call their doctor, rather than visit.
The Lawrence County Commissioners said they will follow the guidelines put forth by the State of Ohio.
On Thursday, DeWine limited the size of groups of people gathering together and banned having more than 100 people in a single room at the same time.
That does not apply to churches, grocery stores, libraries, workplaces, weddings, funerals and airports. Athletic events will not have spectators except parents and media.