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Health & Science

Summit Public Health Commissioner Concerned About Bill that Limits Health Department Orders

Health Commissioner Donna Skoda
Tim Rudell
/
WKSU
Public Health Commissioner Donna Skoda worries the implementation of SB22 will lead to not only more COVID-19 spread, but spread of other diseases such as tuberculosis.

Summit County’s Public Health Commissioner is concerned about a bill that she says limits her department’s ability to protect citizens.

SB22 went into effect in June and gives the state legislature power to overturn any health orders issued by the governor and the state health department. The bill also takes power away from local health departments to impose orders.

Commissioner Donna Skoda says the bill makes public health orders such as quarantines and isolations voluntary.

Skoda on health department mandates
Donna Skoda, Summit County Health Department

“Honestly, it puts us at a great disadvantage because we know that we can’t mandate. We can only recommend and try to get individuals to comply without any sort of legal clout,” she said.

The bill also states that only individuals who are medically diagnosed with a disease can be placed under quarantine or isolation. This is an issue not only with the fast-spreading COVID-19 but with other diseases such as tuberculosis, where diagnoses can take up to two weeks.

Skoda says although most Summit County residents comply with the health department’s recommendations, she hopes the legislation can be altered to give some of this power back.