Athens Co. Health Commissioner Orders Public Bodies to Conduct Meetings Online

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Dr. James Gaskell, Athens City-County Health Commissioner, is ordering all public bodies in the county to “make best efforts” to conduct their business digitally as a precaution to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Ohio Attorney General’s office, public bodies include state and local government agencies such as school boards, city council, county commissioners, and boards of trustees. Some public bodies must still meet during the COVID-19 pandemic, as required by law.

In a press release, Gaskell said said these meetings are a risk to public health, particularly if members of the community are invited to attend.

“Requiring a member or official to attend in-person contradicts the ability of the person to serve as a member of the body and choose to self-isolate or stay at home if they are experiencing symptoms,” Gaskell wrote.

He said the public body must give proper notice to the community about how to access the meeting, if said meeting is deemed essential.

The order is effective at 11:59p.m. on Thursday, March 26, 2020 and will be enforced as long as the state “stay at home” order is in place.