BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio — Butler County officials announced a mask distribution program Wednesday morning to help people comply with Ohio Governor Mike DeWine's mask ordinance.
"The program will distribute masks to those who would not otherwise be able to get them," Butler County Health Commissioner Jennifer Bailer said. "Masks will be distributed across the county via fire stations and will also be available in select businesses in Fairfield, Hamilton and Middletown."
These three locations were identified by local health departments as areas within Butler County where COVID-19 cases haven risen recently.
The plan to give out masks is still in its early phases and there is no timetable yet as to when the masks will be available.
Bailer reiterated the governor's ordinance and said masks will be required for all indoor locations that aren't a person's residence, all outdoor locations where a person can't social distance and on all forms of public transit.
"Our goal has been, and still remains, to preserve and protect the public health while keeping our businesses vibrant and thriving," Butler County Commissioner Cindy Carpenter said. "We will continue to advocate for the safe operation of businesses and actively support economic activity around the Butler County region..."
The news conference comes one day after DeWine announced a mask ordinance for counties in Ohio with “very high exposure and spread” of COVID-19. The counties that are affected are at a level three or level four public health emergency. Butler County is in a level three health emergency.
The ordinance also said anyone who violates it will be in danger of receiving a misdemeanor charge.
“We’re not looking to see a lot of people arrested," DeWine said. "That is not the idea at all. ... (But) if we’re not able to do this and carry this out, we’re going to see this virus take command again, and that is not a situation that we would want.”
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said he and his deputies will not be the "mask police."
"I am not going to enforce any mask-wearing," Jones said. "That is not my responsibility, that is not my job. People should be able to make that choice themselves."
"Public health will not be the mask police either," Bailer said Wednesday. "But we will do everything we possibly can to assist our citizens in complying with this order in wearing of masks."