At the Vermilion City Council on Meeting Monday, November 2, 2020 Mayor Jim Forthofer stated that his Mayor's Report is intended to cite notable City business, but it seems СOVID-19 has become City business.
The mayor stated that last spring Vermilion had 9 – 12 cases of COVID-19. Last summer there was a high of 26 cases. As of two week ago there are 55 cases. As of the weekend there are 82 active cases, a 49% increase in two weeks.
“We have had 12 new reported cases in the past week,” stated the mayor. “Two hospitalizations. Zero deaths gratefully. A couple months ago I did not even know anyone who had COVID. Now I am calling employees, relatives, or friends with positive cases daily.”
Mayor Forthofer stated he is redirecting the city work force.
“I have given instructions to temporarily close City Hall to the public. The purpose is to preserve our ability to provide services to Vermilion residents. COVID's presence at City Hall occurs daily in one form or another. We have had positive COVID tests, quarantines of staff because of exposure to COVID, and other restrictions on our ability to operate. As you are aware, I cannot talk about specific cases due to HIPA laws. I have directed as many of the City Hall staff work from home as possible. I have arranged for a deep cleaning of City Hall. Through previous economizations our departments have very small staffs. An infection or simple quarantine can wipe out an entire public service.”
“This is not a shut down,” clarified the mayor. “We are closed to the public, but our intention is to redirect our work force to an arrangement more sustainable under the current circumstances. It is purely situational. Our schools have different circumstances. Other organizations like some libraries have closed. City of Milan shut down their City Hall temporarily. Elyria City Hall is operating under restricted conditions, Cleveland is closed to the public. During the Spring stay at home order City Hall, employees worked surprisingly well from home. We hope to repeat that arrangement. Bills can still be paid, building permits issued, questions and complaints handled. Other City departments will be handled based on their individual situations. City Hall exists to serve the residents of Vermilion. My decision is made to maintain the health of City employees and their ability to serve the public. I will monitor employee health conditions and let you know of a reopening date.”
The mayor stated the Hospital Board COVID Advisories, a board of physicians, epidemiologists and social workers, recently addressed the impact of COVID-19 on the surrounding communities.
“Spread of COVID is as aggressive as it has ever been since the epidemic became public early this year. It is growing in all racial, age and socio-economic sectors,” said the mayor. “There have been cases of people getting COVID-19 a second time. Addiction and mental health cases have grown as the epidemic continues. Some services are being overwhelmed.”
The mayor asked Vermilion residents to be particularly vigilant of family and neighbors who may be exhibiting stress symptoms, and not to be afraid to connect them with local mental health and addiction resources.