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Confusion surrounding Ohio's mask mandate continues

3News looks into which agency will enforce the new mandate.

OHIO, USA — Governor DeWine released the official order for residents in seven Ohio counties to wear face coverings to help them fight increasing COVID-19 cases.

“What the future looks like determines what we do today. That’s kind of the way it is,” says Gov. DeWine.

In the order, interim Ohio Department of Health Director Lance Himes directs all residents in seven counties including Cuyahoga, Huron and Trumbull to wear face coverings inside any place that’s not a home, outdoors if social distancing isn’t possible, and when using public transportation or ride sharing in private vehicles. 

It's an order that some are pushing back on.

“Well I think we probably have five or six lawsuits already testing our authority. I’m sure that there will be lawsuits Jim that will be filed as a result of that,” says Gov. DeWine.

As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, 3News saw a mix of people with and without masks in public. We spent the day calling the Governor’s office and multiple local health departments to figure out which agency will enforce the order, since it’s not clear in the mandate. However, the Governor seems to think it is clear.

“We have to have the ability to enforce orders. If you don’t have the ability to enforce an order, it just, it’s just dust, it simply does not work,” says Gov. DeWine.

The end of the mandate states local health departments can answer questions about this order to make masks mandatory.

“We can fight back, there is something that we can do, and by wearing masks, by keeping social distancing, by all of us working together to get more testing we fight back,” says Gov. DeWine.

The Cuyahoga County Board of Health spokesperson Kevin Brennan said late Wednesday night "We fully support the intent behind the director's order and appreciate the data-driven approach to monitoring local activity. By wearing masks, we can all help to prevent the spread of illness." 

When asked a follow-up question about if the Board of Health will enforce the new order with citations, he replied "We do not yet have clarity about that aspect".

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