Local leaders agree with lifting of restrictions


By Melody Vallieu

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MIAMI COUNTY — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine will lift most COVID-19 restrictions for vaccinated residents soon and local leaders agree that it’s time to begin a return to normalcy.

The announcement means, beginning June 2, Ohioans will no longer be required to wear facial coverings and follow social distancing guidelines. It also puts an end to capacity restrictions at indoor and outdoor events.

Safety guidelines will remain in effect for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, DeWine said, adding the outcome will depend on continued data from the state.

Miami County Public Health Health Educator Vicky Knisley-Henry, Ph.D., said with the significant decrease in new COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths, and the number of people choosing to get vaccinated, Miami County Public Health staff agrees that lifting restrictions should begin.

Since May 1, the average has been only five new COVID-19 cases per day in Miami County, compared to mid-December, when there was an average of 100 new cases per day.

“We are optimistic that people will continue to be cautious and get vaccinated. That will help ensure that we don’t see a spike in cases once restrictions are completely lifted,” Knisley-Henry said.

Knisley-Henry said Miami County Public Health (MCPH) staff are hopeful that this will have a positive effect on the county moving forward.

“The community has been doing the hard work for more than a year now to get the cases down and people are ready to move forward and get back to normal,” Knisley-Henry said.

Piqua Mayor Kris Lee said he believes June 2 is a turning point for residents and businesses.

“I’m excited that the restrictions are being lifted. Business and somewhat normal life can begin,” Lee said. “I do believe it is time, especially for the people who have been vaccinated.”

Lee said he hopes to see new movement in the city of Piqua shortly after restrictions are lifted.

“Hopefully increased business and downtown activities,” Lee said. “I believe people will be more social and a little of the life we knew can resume.”

Lee advises residents to follow the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines and just “enjoy life.”

“We need to resume life and business as it was before the pandemic,” Lee said.

Troy Mayor Robin Oda, who has been outspoken about her feelings on the state’s guidelines, agrees that it is past time.

“We’ve experienced a flurry of changes regarding masking and social distancing over the last couple of days, and I applaud them,” she said. “It is beyond time and should have happened months ago.

“The city, our businesses and residents are more than ready to live life again without these restrictions and are looking forward to a busy, active summer and fall here in Troy.”

Oda said businesses do have the choice to continue the restrictions, and residents can make the decision where they will visit.

“While some businesses may choose to continue the restrictions, that is their choice. Consumers can then decide where they will eat, shop and play.”

Kinsley-Henry reminds that residents should remain aware that the pandemic is ongoing.

“Be cautious. The virus is not gone and people who have not been vaccinated can still get COVID and spread it to others,” Knisley-Henry said. “If you are sick or around someone who is sick, stay home. For everyone eligible, get vaccinated. The more people vaccinated, the less opportunity the virus has to keep spreading.”

MCPH continues to offer its permanent vaccine clinic in the Troy Business Park, 880 Arthur Drive, Troy. The weekly schedule can be found at www.miamicountyhealth.net. She said the Pfizer vaccine, the only one approved for those under 18, will be available at the clinic from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, May 22. Knisley-Henry said MCPH staff will keep the site open for as long as is needed in the county to vaccinate those in need.

Knisley-Henry said 31% of the residents of the county have been completely vaccinated. She said while other areas have experienced issues with people not showing up for their second vaccination, that has not been much of an issue in Miami County.

“While we have had some no-shows, there doesn’t appear to be a large number of people skipping their second dose,” Knisley-Henry said.

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