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Summit County Emergency Blog

Emergency blog
Activated during disasters and emergencies to provide critical public information. Administered by the Summit County Office of Emergency Management.

Apr 04

Covering Your Face in Public

Posted on April 4, 2020 at 2:32 PM by Julie Sutor

Should I wear a cloth face cover while out in the community shopping for essential goods?

CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in areas of significant community-based transmission. This recommendation is based on new evidence showing that persons without COVID-19 symptoms can spread the virus without knowing it. The virus is believed to be spread person-to-person, through respiratory droplets.

Face coverings are not a replacement for social distancing. It is critical to remember that maintaining at least 6 feet of social distance continues to be the most important strategy for limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Face coverings are an additional voluntary public health measure to help control the spread of this virus. Community members can fashion cloth face coverings from household items or make them at home from common materials at low cost.

PLEASE NOTE: Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone who is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the covering without assistance.

The cloth face coverings recommended are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for health care workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.

Tips, instructions and information resources for effectively making and wearing a cloth face covering:
  • How to make a cloth face cover
  • For a face covering to be effective, it is important to put it on and take it off properly. The key to taking it off is not to touch the outer portion of the cover which may have virus on it. Here is a good instructional video by National Jewish Health.
  • Wash the face covering routinely depending on the frequency of use. A washing machine should suffice in properly cleaning a face covering. If you do not have a washing machine, wash vigorously by hand, using soap and hot water.

Remember, face coverings do not provide 100% safety from transmission so it is important to continue to follow the Public Health Orders:

If sick, please stay at home! Save lives!
  • Ask a friend or loved one to purchase and deliver essential products when needed.
  • Or call Summit County at 970 668-2940 for support services.
If feeling well:
  • Adhere to the stay-at-home orders. Only leave your home for essential needs and outdoor exercise with strict adherence to social distancing guidelines. If you must go out, a face covering is recommended. When it comes to exercising with a face covering, use discretion so that the face covering does not interfere with your breathing.
  • Keep at least 6 feet from persons outside of your immediate household.
  • Practice frequent handwashing or application of hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available.
  • Do not touch your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue, and throw it out immediately. Or cough and sneeze into the bend of your arm.

For more information about wearing a face cover, visit CDC's recommendations on cloth face coverings.
Apr 03

Virtual Town Hall for Summit and Lake Counties

Posted on April 3, 2020 at 1:04 PM by Sarah Wilkinson

Join your state elected officials -   and Senator Kerry Donovan - today, Friday, April 3 at 4 pm for a virtual town hall. Representative McCluskie and Senator Donovan will be answering your questions. They will be joined by other community leaders, including Summit and Lake County Commissioners, Public Health Officials and Emergency Response Team Leaders. 

The Virtual Town Hall will take place via Zoom and will discuss the state's response to COVID-19 and the latest from the legislature. If you have any questions that you would like addressed, you can submit them in advance via this Google Form: 

You can join via Zoom using the following information:
Zoom URL:
iPhone one-tap: 13462487799,,865101134#
dial in: 1 346 248 7799, Member ID: 865 101 134

If you cannot access Zoom, the event will also be streaming live on Facebook, and you can join there:
Apr 02

Do I need to sanitize my groceries? What about mail or books from the library?

Posted on April 2, 2020 at 4:15 PM by Sarah Wilkinson

First and foremost, we are so grateful for all of our grocery store employees who are working tirelessly to keep shelves stocked, for truck drivers delivering supplies, for librarians and utility workers, for mail carriers and delivery drivers, and everyone else that is working during this time to help keep our lives as close to normal as possible.

If you’re wondering about how you can best protect yourself while taking care of necessary activities like grocery shopping or picking up the mail, you’re not the only one. Many people have questions about how COVID-19 is spread and if you can catch it by touching your groceries, mail, a library book, or other items. 

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) can be detected on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on stainless steel or plastic for up to three days. Though it does seem to survive on surfaces, the number of virus particles decreases rapidly at the start, then slowly approaches zero over time. However, these are still preliminary findings, and there are ways we can all take precautions until more is known about the virus.

How are grocery stores following the social distancing guidelines?
Our grocery stores are implementing many measures to ensure that stores are as safe as possible for our community. 

Natural Grocers 2

Stores have posted signage about social distancing, are using their loudspeaker systems to remind shoppers about maintaining a 6-foot distance from other shoppers, have installed signage/tape in checkout aisles to indicate proper distancing, and are instating regular, scheduled hand-washing for employees, among other practices. All stores are very diligent about inquiring with employees about wellness and ensuring they do not have any symptoms. If you feel that social distancing guidelines are not being followed, all stores recommend that you contact the store manager to voice your concerns.

If you are headed to the grocery store, try to go during quiet hours and maintain social distancing from other shoppers and employees while in the store. We recommend making less frequent trips and if you can afford, buy enough food for about two weeks. There’s no need to buy everything on the shelves as stores are receiving regular deliveries to restock their shelves.

The best advice remains: Wash your hands before you shop and immediately after you shop, do not touch your face, and try to stay at least six feet away from other shoppers and store employees.

Should I be wearing a face mask? What about store employees?
The current CDC guidance for the general public is that it is only necessary to wear a face mask if you are sick and are around other people, for example sharing a room or vehicle, or at a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not sick, the CDC only recommends wearing a face mask if you are caring for someone who is sick. Since face masks are in short supply, they should be saved for healthcare workers, first responders, caregivers, and other high-risk groups.

According to a recent NPR interview, the CDC Director Robert Redfield stated the agency is reviewing data around mask use by the general public. If you are healthy, and choose to wear a face mask, remember there is a shortage and masks like N-95s should be saved for healthcare workers, first responders, caregivers, and other high risk populations. There are many articles online about using household items like bandanas to create a face mask for personal use. 

Since current CDC guidelines do not recommend that healthy people wear face masks, grocery store employees are not required to wear them. Store management is allowing employees to wear a face mask voluntarily if it is their personal preference. 

Do I need to sanitize my groceries after grocery shopping?
The best and most important way to avoid contract COVID-19 is to wash your hands frequently and sanitize all high touch surfaces like tabletops, door handles, light switches, sink faucets, and phones. 

As for washing and sanitizing your groceries, the CDC always recommends washing fruits and vegetables under running water—even if you do not plan to eat the peel. For packaged goods, there are no current recommendations to sanitize those items; however, if it gives you peace of mind, you can wipe down cans, bottles and boxes with soap and water or disinfectant wipes before putting them away.

Can I get COVID-19 from touching my mail or packages?
The United States Postal Service stated, “the CDC, the World Health Organization, as well as the Surgeon General have indicated that there is currently no evidence that COVID-19 is being spread through the mail.” So while it is believed that COVID-19 could be spread through contact with a contaminated surface or objects and then touching your face, mouth, or possibly eyes, it is unlikely that it is being spread via mail or packages. We do always recommend taking precautions and so you should wash your hands after handling your mail or packages, and make sure not to touch your face while handling those items.  

I got books and DVDs from curbside-pickup at the library – should I sanitize them?
The Summit County Libraries are closed to the public but are offering curbside pickup for materials at all three branches.

The Library is taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of their employees and patrons, and have implemented the following procedures: staff wear gloves to process materials, they disinfect the book drop and other processing areas, washing hands immediately after handling materials and after removing gloves, and sanitize the covers/outside cases of all materials. As an additional precaution, all materials that are returned to the library are “quarantined” for 3 days before being processed. 

As always, you should wash your hands after handling an item and make sure not to touch your face. If you are touching the book or item frequently, and it will not cause any damage, you can wipe down the cover or the outside case with a disinfectant wipe.

An additional option for patrons who do not want to check out physical materials is to access Summit County Library’s large collection of ebooks and other materials for digital download