NORWOOD, Ohio — Hamilton and Butler counties are now under a mask mandate Wednesday, part of a statewide order to curb COVID-19 in counties at the highest risk. Details of the order were released Wednesday evening, but there are still members of the community struggling to find enough masks for their entire family.
While the debate over the new rule rages on, there are plenty of folks who want masks and can’t find or afford them. So, people like Virginia Patterson are stepping up to help.
“We just all got to jump on board together and work collectively together,” she said Wednesday.
Patterson wanted to make sure her Norwood neighbors were covered. Though she’s not with any agency or organization, she thought maybe the United Way could help.
“I asked her for donations for masks. She says, ‘Well, I can give you 2,000.’ And I said ‘Oh.’ That was a little bit more than I expected,'” she said.
With the masks in hand, Patterson needed a way to get the word out before the mandate went into effect Wednesday evening. That’s where the Norwood Police Department and Lt. Ron Murphy came in.
“I said ‘Well, heck. That’s easy enough. Just tell her to contact me.’ I had her give my phone number to my office,” Murphy said. “Virginia and I hooked up and we’ve been doing this, and, so far, it’s been great.”
Norwood Police officials said the department is in favor of mask wearing, but officers will not be actively enforcing the mandate in order to prioritize regular law enforcement business.
At the corner of Sherman and Station Avenues, the team distributed about 400 masks in just the first half hour Wednesday.
Norwood resident Lori Janzen stopped by because she knows keeping the seven people in her home in masks may be a challenge.
“There’s lots of people that are high-risk and our numbers are going up, so trying to keep it safe,” Janzen said.
What’s done to comply with a statewide mandate may just bring those in the same neighborhood even closer together, and with masks left over, Murphy said they may distribute again on Thursday.
“That’s a blessing,” Janzen said. “That’s a very big blessing considering a lot of people sell them and stuff, but for somebody to give them from their heart to help people out … that helps out tremendously.”