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Summit County gets 400 complaints, businesses may be violating state order

Posted at 8:43 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 17:46:10-04

AKRON, Ohio — Tensions, confusion, and concerns continue to mount over which Ohio businesses may be in violation of a state order issued to helps slow the spread of coronavirus.

The 12-page stay at home order issued by the Ohio Department of Health called for all non-essential businesses across the state to temporarily close, but a growing number of complaints from concerned employees are pouring into government offices.

Summit County Public Health told News 5 it has received 400 complaints in the past three days of employees alleging dozens of businesses are potentially violating the state order and possibly putting workers at risk.

Tonia Burford, Environmental Health Director with Summit County Public, told News 5 they are now taking steps to insure companies are complying with the state order.

Burford said the health department has conducted two dozen on site visits at companies that may be in violation, including the Little Tikes plant in Hudson, Ohio.

She confirmed Summit County Public Health is now working with Little Tikes and is considering legal action if the plant doesn't work toward compliance.

“The first step is a phone call, we try to meet the business where they are at, the second step is a site visit," Burford said.

"If we can’t get compliance that way, we have the ability to use police officers.”

“With Little Tikes, it’s been sent to our legal for review, so I can’t give details about that process, other than that we are working with them on their walk to compliance.”

News 5 made multiple attempt to reach Little Tikes headquarters for comment and it issued the following statement:

“We have been in touch with the Summit County Health Office as well as the Governor of Ohio’s office and are cooperating fully. Little Tikes toys are essential (now more than ever) to maintaining the mental and physical health of children who are at home, and for their parents who are looking for support during this unprecedented time.

We manufacture our products in a very safe environment, following strict protocols designed to keep our employees and the general public safe.

MGA and Little Tikes launched an initiative called Operation: Pac-Man, which has already begun supplying protective masks to hospitals, doctors and nurses at no charge. To support the need, we are retooling our Little Tikes factory in an expedited manner so that we can make protective medical supplies such as valves for ventilators and protective goggles for hospital workers and doctors.

Operation: Pac-Man has already shipped 30,000 masks, will ship another 200,000 next week to hospitals around the country, and millions more are on the way.”

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost told News 5 companies that don't voluntarily comply could face a second degree misdemeanor and a court order for closure.

“We want people to comply voluntarily, this isn’t a time to see what we can get away with, we’re in this together," Yost said

“But the governor made it clear that if we can’t get people to go along willingly, because we’re all in this together, he’s willing to use the power that he has.”

Summit County Public Health has now issued this clarification pagefor Summit County businesses regarding the state COVID-19 order, hoping it will clear-up the ongoing confusion.