WEST OLIVE — A motion to have the Ottawa County Department of Public Health compare its enforcement of COVID-19 orders with external organizations to enforcement of health rules in county buildings has failed, after members of a county committee unanimously voted against the proposal Tuesday.
County Commissioner Kyle Terpstra, who represents parts of Georgetown Township, requested a motion for the health department to present the full board of commissioners with a report of: a list of cease-and-desist letters issued by OCDPH to businesses for COVID-19 order violations; efforts to follow up on enforcing the letters; a summary of COVID-19 safety protocols in Ottawa County buildings; how OCDPH was ensuring COVID-19 safety compliance in county buildings; and actions to enforce compliance with the county’s COVID-19 safety plan.
The motion failed to advance to the full Board of Commissioners for a vote, after the county Planning and Policy Committee voted 5-0 against it. Terpstra is not a member of the committee.
Terpstra had previously attempted to introduce the motion to the full board during a commissioners meeting April 13, but board Chairman Roger Bergman denied the move, instead referring Terpstra to the Planning and Policy Committee.
Following Tuesday’s meeting, Terpstra said the goal was to make sure that Ottawa County is maintaining the same health standards it’s asking businesses to uphold.
“The health department is receiving complaints ... and they’re seeking out and going into businesses and making sure that they’re compliant to the COVID enforcement that the state’s employing,” Terpstra told The Holland Sentinel. “I just want to make sure that Ottawa County buildings are in compliance, and that we’re following the law as well.”
Doug Van Essen, who is the county’s legal counsel, said Tuesday that the county health department mainly enforces COVID-19 orders if a resident approaches the department with a complaint about a business. Cease-and-desist letters are only sent after repeated instances of noncompliance, he added.
Last October, the Ottawa County health department issued a cease-and-desist letter to Libertas Christian School in Hudsonville over repeated noncompliance with the Michigan health department’s mask order, despite an ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. At the time, OCDPH Health Officer Lisa Stefanovsky said, “We had numerous fearful individuals reach out to us concerned about health and safety in an environment that was not working to protect them.”