Mask Mandate and Deer in Worthington—Council agenda items, March, 2022
Just a quick note to alert you to a couple of important issues on the Council agenda this month: the covid mask mandate, and deer in Worthington.
Mask Mandate—At the beginning of our 3/7 meeting, Dr. Roberts from Columbus Public Health (CPH), which serves Worthington, will provide an update on the state of covid, vaccines, etc., in Franklin County and Worthington. Given current trends, and the 2/28 statement from CPH, I expect her report to be favorable and supportive of ending the mask mandate (I’ve copied below, after the Deer commentary, the 2/28 press release from Columbus Public Health). Following the CPH report, Council will discuss whether and how to end the current mask mandate in effect in Worthington. Legislation is being prepared that will enable Council to vote Monday night to end the mandate promptly by way of an emergency measure. This will require affirmative votes by at least six of seven Council members.
A bit of background: the current mask mandate went in to effect by way of an ordinance, and is scheduled to “sunset” at the end of March. If we want to end it before the end of the month, we need to do so by way of an ordinance (as opposed to a simple proclamation, etc.). Normally, ordinances go in to effect 20 days following passage. But “emergency” ordinances go in to effect immediately upon passage and publication. Publication means posting publicly, and by a quirk in our City Charter (dating back to the days when the local paper was published on Thursdays), is to take place on Thursdays. See below the relevant passages from our City Charter. In the immediate case of the mandate, if passed by emergency ordinance, I expect the City to begin public notification promptly upon passage, and for the letter of the law to indicate that Thursday is the formal end.
SECTION 2.18 PUBLICATION OF ORDINANCES.
Public notice of the passage of an ordinance shall be published the Thursday following passage by one or more of the following methods:
1) By posting copies thereof in not less than four (4) of the most public places in the Municipality as determined by City Council, and on the City website;
2) By posting copies thereof in the office of the Clerk of Council…
Deer in Worthington—The issue of deer in our city, neighborhoods, and yards, has been a recurring issue for a number of years. The issue of deer, and how we live with them, is important, complex, and has no simple answer. Nevertheless, I am committed to squarely engaging the issue. At the 3/14 Council meeting we will hear a report from City Staff on policy options, and we will have available sample legislation regarding a No Deer Feeding ordinance. A No Feed ordinance would not solve the problem that many experience, but I believe it would be a step in the right direction and would indicate Council’s determination to not simply avoid addressing the issue. I expect Council will also discuss next steps. Again, this issue is surprisingly complex once you dig in to it, but I believe the Worthington community can successfully engage the issue rationally and compassionately.
COLUMBUS PUBLIC HEALTH
Press Release: February 28, 2022
Contact: Kelli Newman 614-645-7213 firstname.lastname@example.org
Columbus Public Health Recommends Lifting Facial Covering Requirement on March 7
Recommendation is based on New CDC Guidance
Columbus Public Health is recommending that the mask requirement in Columbus and Worthington end on March 7. The recommendation is based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new guidance. The requirement – which must be removed by Worthington City Council and Columbus City Council through legislative action and by Columbus Mayor’s executive order – will be lifted in seven days to ensure the community maintains the new current level of disease burden and to give public and private entities time to adjust their policies and prepare for the shift.
As we move into a new phase of the pandemic, CDC’s new guidance looks at severe cases that require hospital care and use healthcare resources and the overall number of new cases to provide a better picture of COVID-19’s impact on the community. CDC’s new COVID-19 Community Levels assess data related to the proportion of hospital capacity devoted to caring for COVID-19 patients, the number of new patients with COVID-19 admitted to the hospital, and the number of new COVID-19 cases in the county in the past week. The combination of these numbers determines the COVID-19 community Level in a county—low, medium or high. Franklin County is currently in the medium level which says that masks are not required.
“The pandemic is not over, but the situation has changed, and we are in a new phase,” says Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts. “It is time to turn our efforts to minimizing the impact COVID-19 has on our health, our healthcare systems and our community, while focusing our efforts on protecting those who are most at risk of severe illness.”
Dr. Roberts cautioned that there will still be times that we need to take extra precautions with masks, even if the COVID-19 Community Level in our county is low or medium, such as if you have tested positive, have a loved one with a compromised immune system, or have an infant or child too young for vaccination.
Residents are encouraged to continue to use all available tools to protect themselves from COVID-19. Vaccines, boosters and tests are widely available. Vaccines and boosters are the best way to protect yourself from serious illness from COVID-19. Columbus Public Health offers free walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinics. Find a vaccine clinic near you at www.columbus.gov/c19vax.