Photo by Brian McGowan

Portage County scales back emergency Covid-19 response

Photo by Brian McGowan


Portage County scales back emergency Covid-19 response

Portage County’s emergency operations center switched from full to partial activation this week, said Ryan Shackelford, the county’s emergency management director.

The center has 15 emergency support functions, each of which represents a specific discipline that can lend resources and expertise to the county’s overall Covid-19 response. The center has scaled back to just four emergency support functions as of this week.

“Because we’ve moved to partial activation, that does not take away that we are still coordinating with a lot of those partners,” Shackelford said.

Portage County’s emergency management office also plans to give a large amount of personal protective equipment to local law enforcement and fire departments within the next few days, he said. The agency has acquired 33,800 surgical masks, 2,400 gowns, 3,400 face shields and nearly 10,000 respirators rated for various sizes and types of particles to distribute among every fire department and police station in the county.

“I do want to say thank you to the state of Ohio, Gov. DeWine … for their continued support because this definitely has created a little relief for us as we are trying to procure and find resources locally,” he said.

Asked about coronavirus transmission at local Black Lives Matter protests, Joseph Diorio, the county’s combined health district commissioner, said it can be difficult to practice social distancing at a demonstration.

“We are certainly supportive of the ability to protest and for individuals to be able to protest on whatever platform they want to,” he said. “But it certainly comes into context when you’re in the middle of a pandemic, and you want to protect yourself, and you want to protect others possibly by wearing a face covering and also doing social distancing.”

Diorio also outlined a risk-based assessment for activities like socializing, eating out and travelling as they become more common again as Ohio businesses are allowed to reopen. He advised these activities are safest when individuals do them in outdoor settings while wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing. Higher risk activities include those that are indoors, with more people and more time spent in close contact, he said.

“Whatever we can do to minimize person-to-person contact, we’re going to reduce our risk,” Diorio said.

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Michael Indriolo is a visual journalist based in Kent. He is a contributor at The Portager covering a range of topics, including local government and community.