Open Letter to Residents from Health Commissioner, Joe Mazzola

To the Residents of Franklin County:

We are facing the most significant public health threat of our lifetime. The COVID-19 pandemic has reached Central Ohio, and now we must each change the way we live our lives. While all of us are dealing with anxiety and uncertainty around this crisis, residents should know there are outstanding public health professionals at every level working to keep them safe and healthy.

Franklin County Public Health (FCPH) is fortunate to have extraordinary public health nurses and epidemiologists working on contact tracing, which focuses on containment. That means we are isolating confirmed COVID-19 cases, quarantining the close contacts of these confirmed cases as well as travelers returning from China and Europe, checking in with these individuals on a daily basis.

In addition, FCPH is in constant communication with the Ohio Department of Health, revising and evolving our action plan using the most up-to-date guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. FCPH facilitates communication and coordination with our cities, villages, townships, schools, universities, industry and business leaders to put these recommendations into practice. And our stakeholder engagement is working to reach those most at risk, including the elderly and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.

I am humbled by the response of so many amazing organizations on the forefront of this response. First, under the leadership of Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Columbus Public Health is serving the needs of the cities of Columbus and Worthington, coordinating daily with FCPH. The Franklin County Board of Commissioners is convening daily briefings with county agencies and elected officials. The United Way of Central Ohio has brought together a work group of schools, childcare and social service agencies to meet the needs of our kids. Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security has accelerated our emergency response capabilities and overall coordination. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Franklin County Township Association and Central Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association are all convening strategic conversations for governmental partners.

Finally, our hospital systems, community health centers and first responders are working in lock step to align communication, protocols and resource requests through the Central Ohio Trauma System.

As we continue to adhere to and implement the directives of Governor Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton, we thank the state for its incredible leadership. I want to particularly recognize Dr. Acton for her calm and steady approach to this crisis. Our state could not be more fortunate to have her serving in that role at such an important time.

We all have a role in this response. In order to stay healthy and help others, I am asking our residents to please do the following:

  1. Stay home- only go out as necessary for work, grocery pharmacy needs
  2. Keep proper social distancing by staying at least six feet away from others
  3. Maintain good hygiene by washing your hands and covering your cough
  4. Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms (fever greater than 100.4 F, cough, or shortness of breath)
  5. If you become symptomatic, call your healthcare provider for guidance

For those in need of assistance, we have a list of useful community resources on our COVID-19 website. For those wanting to support their neighbors and fellow residents, organizations, such as The Columbus Foundation and United Way of Central Ohio have setup funds for those negatively impacted. Many organizations such as LifeCare Alliance Meals on Wheels are in need of volunteers. For those in a position to assist, please do so knowing it will make a difference. Finally, you can visit the State of Ohio’s website for additional information and updates at

We are faced with a reality many of us in public health didn’t think we would ever be confronting. As we carry on, it is important that we think of our community like we would think of our family. Every decision we make until this event ends – and it will end – not only affects our individual health but the health of our neighbors and those you may never meet. The decisions we make as individuals, as organizations, and as communities are the ones that will have the greatest impact on how we move forward. We must all work together to take care of our Central Ohio family.

Be well and stay safe.

Joe Mazzola, MPA
Health Commissioner
Franklin County Public Health