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Health emergency declared in Harrison

T-L Photo/CARRI GRAHAM Harrison County Commissioner Paul Coffland reads the resolution declaring the county in a state of health emergency at Tuesday’s meeting in Cadiz.

CADIZ — Officials declared a health emergency in Harrison County due to concerns for residents amid the coronavirus pandemic.

At the request of the directors of the Harrison County Health Department and Harrison County Emergency Management Agency, the Harrison County Board of Commissioners signed a resolution declaring the county in a state of health emergency for the protection and safety of the residents at Tuesday’s meeting. Although commissioners have signed the declaration, officials said nothing has changed.

“Harrison County Board of Commissioners declare that a state of emergency exists in the county and invoke and declare those portions of the Ohio Revised Code that are applicable to the conditions. The issuance of this resolution, to be in full force and effect in the county for the exercise of all necessary emergency authority for the protection of lies and property of the people of Harrison County and the restoration of local government with minimum interruption,” the declaration states.

Commissioners Paul Coffland, Don Bethel and Dale Norris unanimously passed the resolution.

The declaration went into effect immediately after commissioners signed the document and will remain in place for 30 days, unless it is renewed by a majority vote.

Just because the declaration was signed does not mean additional measures will be taken, Coffland said.

“We’re operating as normal, as of now,” he said. “But it gives us the ability to utilize certain services and give the health department and the EMA some latitude.”

Eric Wilson, director of the EMA, said the declaration is beneficial to the county because it opens up various response avenues including relief funding opportunities.

“If we didn’t have one (declaration) it wouldn’t hinder any response, but it does open up a lot of avenues for us for response, additional avenues,” he said.

The EMA is also concerned with the recovery after the virus has subsided.

“I know a lot of people are in the midst of what’s going on, but we’re (EMA) actually looking at the end of this and we’re also looking at recovery. … We’re looking at trying to help businesses not only get through this but to recover on the other side, and I definitely think the declaration much like any other event — if we were to have a flood or a tornado — having a declaration helps open up avenues for assistance after everything is done,” he said.

Garen Rhome, administrator of the health department, thanked commissioners for passing the resolution.

“It shows our local elected officials understand the scope, understand the seriousness, and you’re endorsing Gov. (Mike) DeWine’s recommendations and orders. It really puts an endorsement behind those orders. … From a public health standpoint, we thank you,” he said.

Although the courthouse remains closed to the public, it’s important for the public to realize that local government officials continue to work through this time, Coffland said. Officials are working together to remain updated on the situation, he said.

“We’re doing what we can, just like everyone else, to get through this. And we will,” he said.

Bethel commended local residents for their actions amid the crisis.

“So far the public has been so accommodating to everyone else and so polite; taking care of themselves while taking care of others. They’re taking this seriously, and I want to give a shout out to Harrison County residents for being vigilant and not being stubborn about staying in, about keeping their distance,” he said.

County officials agree that the virus making its way into the county is inevitable; however, officials said that they are prepared for when it comes.

“It’s only a matter of time before it gets here, and practicing those measures prior to it getting here really reduces the spread drastically,” Bethel said.

In other news, commissioners declared a bid announcement for the installation of a new back-up generator for the government center, 538 Main St., Cadiz. Plans can be picked up between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday at the commissioners’ office or electronically by calling 740-942-4623. All bids must be received by 10 a.m. April 8.

“Commissioners reserve the right to reject any and all bids,” Coffland said.

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