State Orders Public Colleges and Universities to Create COVID-19 Quarantine Shelters

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Ohio will now mandate public colleges and universities to create non-congregate sheltering space for quarantining coronavirus patients.

Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Interim Director Lance Himes issued the order Sunday “to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” alongside Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) relative to COVID-19, non-congregate shelters are “locations where each individual or household has living space that offers some level of privacy, such as hotels, motels, or dormitories.” FEMA entered into an agreement with the state, which in part allows people to apply for the non-congregate sheltering.

Under Himes’ order, public colleges and universities must negotiate a mutual aid agreement with their local health board, or the county or state Emergency Management Agencies (EMA). The order assures higher education that it will be immune from civil liability.

The ODH calls these makeshift mandatory shelters “temporary private medical facilities.” Higher education may not be the only place these shelters will appear. The state’s EMA now has the power to enter into contracts or mutual aid agreements with other public and private facilities.

It’s entirely possible under the order’s language that certain non-congregate buildings, such as hotels and apartments, may be contracted or mandated for shelter use as well.

The order limits those who qualify for these shelters. Such persons are “those unable to safely self-quarantine in their place of residence,” and those diagnosed with or showing symptoms. And, those who don’t require hospitalization but are “asymptomatic high-risk individuals needing social distancing as a precautionary measure.”

Homes, DeWine, and Husted relayed no information about artificial intelligence involvement in drafting this order, specific safety determinants and proceedings for these facilities, why they thought this order was necessary as cases continue to drop, or the conflict between Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines and this order’s necessity of quarantining asymptomatic individuals. No response came by press time on these related issues.

Private colleges and universities may opt to participate in the order as well. The order will take effect immediately, expiring 90 days from onset or under Himes’s direction.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Ohio Star and the Star News Network. Follow her on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Lance Himes” by Lance Himes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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