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Mask mandate now underway for Summit, Lorain counties

How to enforce the mandate is the challenge now for the two counties.

CLEVELAND — On Friday evening, Summit and Lorain joined the counties of Ohio where masks are mandated in public spaces.

But for both of these counties, and others, total enforcement is a challenge.

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing so much in our lives and with an increase of cases, there's also a new level of expectations. 

"It's really about encouraging everyone to wear a mask and that mandate actually tells you how serious it is," says Dave Covell, commissioner for Lorain County Public Health. 

Lorain County and Summit County have both gone from Level 2 orange, where masks are recommended, to a Level 3 red, where masks are required in public spaces if you're unable to social distance. 

"In terms of writing tickets, that's not something local health deparmtents do," Covell says.

But what they will do is work on education. Enforcement will be a combination of business owners and the general public cooperating. 

On Thursday, the Lorain County Sheriff's Office created a social media post reminding people not to overwhelm law enforcement with calls to the dispatch center related to this order. 

RELATED: Lorain County Sheriff's Office: 'Do not overwhelm' dispatch centers with calls about masks

"We're not certaintly going to go out and look for people, look for things or anybody that's violating the order, we just don't have the man power or resources," says Lt. Robert Vansant of the Lorain County Sheriff's Office. 

However, Vansant says they will be there for businesses and anyone else who has an issue. They'll keep the peace, be a mediator and educator. 

Summit County is joining Lorain County at the red level on Friday. Health Commissioner Donna Skoda says they are a complaint-based organization and will send inspectors to follow up. 

"My wearing a mask in public protects everyone else, everyone else wearing a mask protects me," Skoda says. "If we can just do it for each other, it will make such a difference in our outcome."

Cuyahoga County and Trumbull County both remain at Level 3, meaning masks in both counties remain mandated. Additionally, Cuyahoga County has been marked as approaching Level 4 (purple) -- the highest level on the state's scale, which denotes "severe exposure and spread" of the coronavirus.

RELATED: Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish: Violation of mask order could be punishable by up to 90 days in jail

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