Piqua city manager warns county may be headed for Risk Level 3 rating

PIQUA — Piqua City Manager Gary Huff on Wednesday advised the Piqua City Commission the county may soon be moved up another level in the state’s Public Health Advisory Alert System.

“There’s a great possibility that Miami County will be moved to a Level 3, which is a red county, pertaining to the public health system,” Huff said. “There’s a very high exposure and spread within the county. It limits activities as much as possible. We’re already under a public mask order, but in this past week, we’ve had 19 new cases in Piqua, which is pretty high, and that makes us with 80 cases overall. Still with fortunately only one death. We don’t like to see any deaths, but we’re fortunate it’s only been one. We are seeing a great increase in the number of cases that are showing up.”

As of Wednesday evening, Miami County’s total positive COVID-19 cases are currently at 711 with 36 deaths linked to the virus.

The county is currently at Orange level, or Risk Level 2, on the Ohio COVID-19 Risk Level guidelines for the public, according to Miami County Public Health (MCPH). This risk level means there is increased exposure and spread and residents should exercise a high degree of caution. According to MCPH, Miami County has met the following criteria for three of the seven alert indicators, including:

• New cases per capita, such as 50-plus cases/100,000 population within last two weeks

• More than 50 percent of new cases are from non-congregate care living

• Sustained increase in outpatient visits for COVID-19 symptoms over the past five days

Additional indicators include:

• Sustained increase in new cases

• Sustained increase in emergency department visits for COVID-like symptoms

• Sustained increase in new COVID hospital admissions

• Intensive Care Unit (ICU) bed occupancy

Residents are also directed to follow all current health orders, according to the Centers for Disease Control guidance.

The state’s Risk Level 3 rating encourages residents to follow the same guidelines under the first two levels, but also says residents should do the following:

• Decrease in-person interactions with others.

• Consider necessary travel only.

• Limit attending gatherings of any number.

For more information, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Also during Wednesday’s special meeting, the commission passed a resolution showing support for the Davidson Flexibility for States and Localities Act, declaring the resolution an emergency.

Piqua Mayor Kris Lee said this bill from Congressman Warren Davidson is seeking to ease restrictions on municipalities in regard to what they can use CARES act funding for.

“What the Davidson Flexibility for States and Localities Act is comprised of is a bill that Warren Davidson, our local representative, has placed in the Congress in which it allows the cities to use the CARES Act money in ways in which are more flexible than the initial spending handcuffs that we had on the original act,” Lee said. “We’re allowed to spend it on budget shortfalls and offset the loss of revenues, according to this bill.

“Our resolution is in support of that,” Lee continued. “It allows him to take this information and all the resolutions from various cities to Congress with him to say, ‘Hey, look, these people are in support of my bill, please listen.”

“Currently, for any type of response that we’d receive in response to the COVID, something had to be directly impacted by the COVID or had been expenditures for that,” Commissioner Chris Grissom said. “This just gives us more flexibility to put the money where it’s needed.”

In May, city of Piqua Finance Director Cynthia Holtzapple said the city of Piqua has curtailed nearly $2.5 million in expenses from the city’s 2020 budget in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Miami County Auditor’s Office, the allocation of funds Miami County will be receiving from the CARES Act and House Bill 481 is $3,792,352.60. This amount will be distributed between Miami County, townships, and municipalities.