Letter to the Editor

An open letter to Orange County business owners

By Dr. Irina Gelman, DPM, MPH, PhD, Commissioner of Health, Orange County
Posted 11/12/20

Today I am writing to you to request that you keep up all of the good work you have been doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout Orange County. As you know, COVID-19 has made a huge impact …

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Letter to the Editor

An open letter to Orange County business owners

Posted

Today I am writing to you to request that you keep up all of the good work you have been doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 throughout Orange County. As you know, COVID-19 has made a huge impact on Orange County. While the number of cases went down in the summer, they are back on the rise. As a matter of fact, the Orange County impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as of November 6, 2020 has resulted in 14,291 confirmed cases as well as 508 deaths to date in Orange County. Of those cases, 45.5 percent have been in individuals 1-44 years of age, with the second largest number of confirmed cases in the 45-64 age group (32%). Orange County is currently experiencing a surge in new positive cases. In fact, we continue to see new COVID-19 positive resident cases in Orange County daily at increasing rates. The Orange County seven-day rolling case average has climbed to 51.4 cases.

What is most alarming is that I have witnessed a number of local businesses removing or not enforcing the required precautions. The Department of Health receives numerous complaints daily regarding this lack of compliance. With cases on the rise, this is not the time to become lax; you must adhere to and enforce the mandated safety precautions in your own facilities and exclude those who are non-compliant.

The Governor’s Executive Order 202.17 which mandated the requirements for all persons over the age of 2, who are medically able, to wear a face-covering when in a public area have not changed. It is still in force. Further, Executive Order 202.34, which gave business operators and building owners and those authorized on their behalf the discretion to ensure compliance with the directive on Executive Order 202.17, or to regulate or compel their removal if they fail to adhere to such directive, and protect such owners or operators from being subject to a claim of violation of the covenant of quiet enjoyment or frustration of purpose,solely due to their enforcement of such directive is still in force. To further enforce these provisions, the Legislature amended the state law to include that business owners MUST deny admittance to those not wearing masks or compel their removal from the business.

The fact is, Governor Cuomo has noted that Orange County has seen a dramatic increase of COVID-19 and the failure to enforce these protective measures may result in consequences such as fines, business closures, and ultimately, the spread of disease. Allowing consumers into your business without enforcing the face covering and social distancing requirements is dangerous for all Orange County residents. Allowing your employees to encounter customers without making sure that all required precautions are being followed is dangerous for them and for all Orange County residents. I must ask you to continue to do your part in preventing the spread of COVID-19 by continuing to constantly adhere to and enforce the mandated precautions in your own facilities.

The OCDOH takes the health and safety of our residents very seriously, even more so during the worst earth crisis in a century. While infection rates are increasing daily, we need to proceed with caution and take every step possible in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

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