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County health department continues to monitor diseases

While the Lawrence County Commissioners meetings are still closed to the public, the commissioners themselves met at the JROC center to broadcast their meeting on May 12.

The commissioners wore masks and sat six feet apart for the meeting.

Commission president DeAnna Holliday said that as the county reopens and tries to gain some sense of normalcy, their office is doing the same. She pointed out that they were all wearing masks, were six feet apart and were taking all measures to keep themselves and the public safe.

“While it is not normal that we sit, looking like masked bandits, this may be our new norm for a while,” she said. “We’re happy to be back together and look each other in the eye and conduct the daily business of the county.”

The last several meetings have been done remotely online after Gov. Mike DeWine ordered only small gatherings of less than 10 people and the Ohio Legislature passed a law allowing public meetings to be held online so government business could continue in public.

Health Commissioner Georgia Dillon said she has been talking to many local businesses who are now allowed to reopen. She said they were excited but expressed concerns about how they can do that. She said the health department has talked to them.

“The general message we would like to give is maintain the six-foot distancing, nothing can change that,” she said.

Dillon said restaurants are going to do things like remove chairs so there is social distancing.

“I am so thankful for our businesses, they are trying to do what is right,” she said. “We’ve been a lot of places to make suggestions to keep people in Lawrence County safe.”

She said the county has had two new COVID-19 cases, one a child and one an adult male.

“But everyone is doing fine,” Dillon said.

She said that as businesses and other places open, it will increase the chance of exposure and people need to still use caution. “We will expect a rise in the numbers and we are concerned about that.”

She said about 3,000 people have been tested by King’s Daughter’s Medical Center and the numbers have remained low.

She said monitoring for other diseases continues and they confirmed cases of Hepatitis A, Hepatitis C, bacterial meningitis and Lyme’s disease over the past two weeks.

The Lawrence County Health Department updates citizens on health-related issues on a nearly daily basis on their Facebook page.

One item on the agenda was a motion to proclaim May 2020 as Older Americans Month in Lawrence County. The proclamation recognized older Americans and asked the public to recognize them, and those that support them, as essential members of the community.

Holliday said the proclamation was important to the commissioners because they do focus on the senior population with activities and anything “that supports our seniors and lifts them up so they know what a vital part of the Lawrence County community they are.”

They also declared May 11-15 as Police Memorial Week and made May 15 Memorial Police Day to honor fallen law enforcement officers.

Lt. Nick Lunsford, the commander of the Ironton Post of the Ohio State Highway Police, joined the meeting via Zoom.

He thanked the commissioners for recognizing Police Week. He said it began in 1962 to honor those officers who were killed in the line of duty. He said in 2019, 128 officers were killed in the United States and three of those officers were from Ohio.

“So far in 2020, there have been 43 killed with one from Ohio,” Lunsford said. The Ohio officer was Officer Kaia Grant of the Springdale Police Department who was killed by a driver who purposely hit her with his truck as she was trying to put down “stop sticks” to end the pursuit.