STEUBENVILLE — From the Jefferson County Board of Health’s perspective, they did not have much choice Tuesday but to vote not to permit the Steubenville Christmas Parade.
From state orders and restrictions on gatherings, to the county being in the “red’ category of the state COVID-19 map and a perceived lack of compliance, there was just too much working against it.
“(The decision) today was basically just re-clarifying what the governor’s instructions have been to this moment,” board President Terry Bell said during a follow-up interview Tuesday afternoon.
According to Bell, the nature of parades goes against what residents are asked to do to slow the spread of the virus.
“That many people crammed together over several blocks in downtown Steubenville, and the chances of even 50 percent of them wearing a mask being slim to none, doing basic math, what does that tell you?” he asked.
“A lot of new cases due to contact, people standing shoulder to shoulder, little kids running out to pick up the candy the floats throw out.”
The parade was scheduled to take place on Dec. 5.
Board member Clark Crago, when reached for a comment on the decision, said it was not a decision the board took lightly, but echoed Bell’s stance that compliance would be difficult to enforce at a parade.
“An event like the Steubenville Christmas Parade, the people who have been there know how many people are there on the streets, how close they are, how much time they spend next to people that could be affected,” he said. “It’s almost impossible (for a parade to comply). You would need an army to enforce anything, to make sure the crowd was doing what it was supposed to do.”
He said the goal has been to give the public the opportunity do the right things, but there’s not been enough compliance.
“The problem we’re having is that people aren’t following the guidelines,” Crago said. “That’s not helping our situation with the numbers soaring. Everybody’s been trying to let the citizens do the right things, wear their masks, social distance, but it seems like it’s just not happening.
“That’s where the board as a whole was coming from with that decision.”
Gov. Mike DeWine implemented a curfew from 10 p.m.-5 a.m. to go in effect on Thursday as cases across the state continue to rise.
In the county, there has been an increase of 129 active confirmed and probable cases in the past week. Four more county residents have died in that time frame, with six additional hospitalizations and an additional 89 recoveries from the virus.
According to Crago, the board is getting closer to naming a new health commissioner.
The position has been vacant since the termination of Nicole Balakos in September that continues to draw public concerns.
He said the hiring committee announced Tuesday it has narrowed its list to two candidates.
“The committee said they narrowed it down to two individuals that they asked for references, when their start date could be and a few other questions they have for them,” Crago said. “We’re getting close. You have got to make sure you make the right choice and get the right candidate in there.
“Everybody wants to find the right candidate for the job, it’s not something you can rush.”
A special meeting for personnel matters in relation to the hiring process for the new health commissioner is set for 5:15 p.m. on Thursday.
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