GALION — The Fourth of July is upon us and with that comes fireworks and crowds.

There is no doubt that this 4th may look a bit different from previous years. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many counties and cities to cancel their fireworks displays to keep large crowds from gathering in one place. Though some shows are still on, it is important to be very careful when it comes to things like social distancing.

COVID-19 has altered many plans from travel, to family gatherings and of course, firework shows. Lt. Governor Husted noted last week that fireworks shows can proceed, but large gatherings were still prohibited. He encouraged any community that plans on holding a fireworks event to do so safely. Spectators are encouraged to find ways to celebrate the Fourth of July in small groups such as by watching displays from their porches, backyards, or cars. During the June 29th press conference, Governor DeWine announced that the Orders limiting mass gatherings would be extended through the end of the week.

“We know that there will be many celebrations across Ohio, and we’ve received some questions about them,” Husted said. “The large gathering order is still in place. Large gatherings are highly discouraged and not allowed.”

“Fireworks shows are not prohibited. They can proceed. What we are not encouraging are large gatherings.”

Trish Factor, Galion City Health Commissioner, shared her own concerns on the potential for mass gatherings around the holiday. As guidelines continue to relax, our efforts to keep ourselves, our families and the community safe should not.

“Regardless of where we’re at in Galion, Crawford County, surrounding counties, or Ohio’s reopening, my recommendations aren’t going to change much,” Ms. Factor said. “The basic principles are the same: keep your distance, wear a mask, continue frequent hand hygiene, stay home if you’re sick, and avoid large gatherings. Everything we do should be viewed through this lens. These simple rules will remain important in keeping ourselves, our families and our community as safe as possible.”

“The virus hasn’t left,” Ms. Factor said. “We’re finding that approximately 12% of people that are testing positive don’t have any symptoms and are going about life normally. If these people are maintaining social distancing and wearing masks, especially in public places or around others, the virus is less likely spread.

As community members decide how they will celebrate, public health officials urge people to practice social distancing guidelines as well as wearing masks, proper hand hygiene, staying home if you are ill, and avoiding large gatherings is of utmost importance. Viewing fireworks displays from your own yard, from your car, or ensuring social distancing when in public areas is extremely important. We also acknowledge that other events are taking place over the holiday weekend. “We ask that if you’re not worried about yourself, worry about others.” Consider the people you come into contact with, loved ones, coworkers, neighbors, and others that could have detrimental outcomes from COVID-19.

July 4th will still be an exciting time in 2020 - it just may look different. The Galion City Health Department staff empathize with community members wanting to feel normal again. Many have the itch to get back to work and school, fully enjoy summer and times with friends. We can still enjoy these activities, but as Ms. Factor says, we must do it responsibly.

“COVID is still here and it isn’t going away any time soon,” she said. “In fact, Ohio is seeing a rise in cases. We need people to remain vigilant. We need people to remain diligent. Mask up. Keep your distance. And as always, wash those hands!”

COVID-19 Galion City & Crawford County Data Update as of June 29

Within Crawford County, we are reporting 133 cases (111 Confirmed and 22 Probable): 29 Confirmed and 8 Probable cases within the Galion City Health Department jurisdiction, 82 Confirmed and 14 Probable within the Crawford County Public Health jurisdiction. * The ages for all confirmed cases fall between under 1 to 103 years of age. The cases involve 66 females and 67 males. 0 cases are currently hospitalized. We are saddened to announce that we now have 6 deaths being reported. We wish to express our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of these individuals. Identifying information will not be released to protect personal privacy and out of respect for the family. 119 (89.5%) of the total cases are now cleared from isolation and doing well. All other cases are isolated at home (under orders to remain in their homes), recovering, and under the care of their family physicians. Our public health staff have notified everyone that had been within 6ft of contact with these cases for a duration of 15 minutes or more. We wish all those affected by COVID-19 a speedy recovery.

Within Crawford County, we have identified 2 separate outbreak categories - associations with either congregate care (nursing homes or residential facilities) or correctional institutions (prison/jail). Of our 133 total cases, 46 (34.59%) are associated with a congregates care settings and 45 (33.83%) are associated with correctional institutions. Which leaves 42 (31.58%) cases that acquired COVID-19 from other locations through community spread.

It is important to note that of our 133 total cases, 16 (12.03%) of those were asymptomatic. As businesses continue to re-open, please remember the virus has not left our area. It is important to continue social distancing, washing your hands, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, cleaning frequently touched surfaces often, and staying home if you are not feeling well.

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