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Health Commissioner Withholds Support for Public Gatherings

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Chardon, Ohio – Geauga Public Health continues to receive dozens of requests daily for guidance or approval of planned events. Health Commissioner, Tom Quade, reminds all those who are seeking input that just because something is now allowed does not mean it is yet wise to do. “None of us want to live in a society where the government tells us what we cannot do. As citizens who all share a place in society, we must then have enough common sense not to do as we please at the expense of someone else’s health and safety. We have to mix in some superego with our id.” As Quade continues to work with community partners, he cautions that his guidance in the planning process should not be confused with support for engaging in the activity. “Sometimes that duality makes it feel like I’m walking a tight rope. Other times it feels more like I’m sitting on one. Neither are pleasant sensations.”

Through great sacrifice, Geauga County has been successful in keeping its COVID-19 case numbers and hospitalization numbers relatively low. Every uncounted undiagnosed infected person can spread the disease to others. Quade says, “At some point some of the asymptomatic cases will cause a severe negative health outcome for someone else down the road.” This is why the argument that people have a choice to accept a risk when they choose to attend an event falls short of sound logic. “Someone who chooses to attend a public gathering like a protest, political rally, concert, fair, or parade may not experience a personal negative health consequence. However, the risk associated with their choice to attend will certainly extend to members of the public who did not choose to attend. That risk extends through the incubation period of the infection unless the attendees voluntarily opt to self-quarantine for two weeks following the event and no one expects that to occur.” 

Geauga Public Health will continue to work diligently with planners of events to mitigate the risks they present to the public. “If an event or activity is not prohibited by the state, it is unlikely we would take action to try to prohibit it locally. Our willingness to work with planners to mitigate risk and our disinclination to prohibit an activity should not be construed or represented as an endorsement of a public gathering. “Large public gatherings currently present the greatest risk of undoing the good accomplished by the tremendous sacrifices made by members of the public to keep each other safe and the numbers relatively low. Planners of public events should not be quick to squander the rewards of the public’s sacrifice.”

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