New Phila law director confers with state on legal response to Covid-19

New Phila law director confers with state on legal response to Covid-19

Marvin Fete


New Philadelphia Law Director Marvin Fete participated in a phone conference Thursday, March 12 with the Office of General Counsel for the Ohio Department of Health.

The purpose of the call was to have a high level review of legal issues surrounding the state’s response to COVID-19, and was specifically for local health department staff and their legal counsel.

“New Philadelphia is in a unique position because we have our own local health district for the city.” Fete said. “The city health department has direct jurisdiction over any of our citizens that would have the virus or that may have been exposed to it; however I want to emphasize that we are working very closely with the county health department on this matter.”

Fete said the Ohio Revised Code gives local health districts tremendous authority in dealing with a crisis of this nature. “If necessary our local health district has broad powers to issue quarantine orders that by law would be enforced by our local police force.” Fete said. “I will work directly with our health department to make sure the law is followed in the event there is a need for our health district to issue any emergency orders.”

Fete said in the event someone gets infected the state’s approach is to isolate that individual and make sure they get the medical treatment necessary. “A quarantine order is generally something that would be issued for people who were exposed to someone who has the virus, or in the case of a hot zone,” he said.

Fete also stressed Ohio law does provide protections for personal privacy in the event someone becomes infected, and information concerning the person’s identity is to be shared on a need to know basis only. Fete said HIPPA law does not apply in these instances because that is only applicable to medical and insurance providers.

“Need to know individuals would obviously involve our health department and first responders charged with enforcing any quarantine orders," he said. "Obviously we are going to respect individual privacy, but we are also going to take every precaution to protect our citizens, and make sure our police and fire rescue units have all the tools and information needed in the event of an emergency.”

Fete said the phone conference with the office of General Counsel for the Ohio Health Department was very helpful. Following the call he consulted with the head of the New Philadelphia Health Department about steps moving forward.

At this time there are no known cases in New Philadelphia. However, for him the meeting illustrated just how serious the nature of the threat is. “While there is no need to panic, the Covid-19 is a very real and serious danger to the health and safety of our citizens and precautions need to be taken," Fete said. "We need to make sure our most vulnerable citizens are protected.”

Senior citizens and those with serious underlying conditions should refrain from going to public places for the next three weeks, and should utilize car services for their grocery needs.

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