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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Ohio Bars and Restaurants Sources of More COVID-19 Outbreaks Than Churches, Daycares, According to Ohio Department of Health

Posted By on Wed, Aug 5, 2020 at 1:17 PM

  • Doug Brown/Scene

After Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine last week asked for and received a mandate for bars and restaurants across the state to institute a 10 p.m. last call to help stem the tide of coronavirus infections, many owners and operators wondered where the data was to support the decision.

Up to that point, the state hadn't provided any statistics about infections that could be traced back to the hospitality industry, and all the public had to go on was assorted anecdotal evidence and the occasional story from local county health departments.

Today, the Ohio Department of Health released some stats to lend credence to the move. (Set aside, for the moment, that there's a solid argument that if bars and restaurants are a nexus for spread, closing them at 10 p.m. instead of altogether makes little sense. DeWine seems to have made the call in the interest of helping a large sector of the Ohio economy get back up to speed and getting people back to work.)

Bars and restaurants, since July 1, have been the source of at least 50 outbreaks, according to contact tracing efforts. That outpaces daycares (11), churches (8), and schools/universities (4). The department didn't release data on how many cases were tied to each outbreak.

The state may or may not release further detailed information, according to, with the main hurdle being assembling information from county departments, each of which are dealing with their own problems.

In Erie County, for example, the health department reported this week that 14 people have refused to self-quarantine and that, "The department also is running into people who refuse to help with contact tracing efforts designed to find out who might have been exposed to COVID-19. Some, in fact, have cursed at the health department workers and refuse to answer questions."

Erie County's health commissioner has gone so far as to ask "the state health department to grant a variance on federal HIPAA medical privacy rules and allow him to publish the names of people disobeying quarantine instructions."

“I think the public has a right to know that,” the commissioner told the Sandusky Register. “I don’t know if we will ever get that, but I put that out there.”

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