(TuscoTV - Ryan Houk reporting.)
It’s time to get serious about COVID-19. Not scared, not short-sighted, but serious.
Last Saturday, The Tuscarawas County Health Department received the first “presumptive positive” test result for coronavirus COVID-19 from Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital. Health Commissioner Katie Seward says the 38-year old male is recovering well and will remain anonymous.
“We want to protect the privacy of the individual during this time of illness and will contact anyone who needs to know or take action.”
Seward says the case had no exposure to anyone testing positive for the virus and had no travel history. So it’s not if, but when, other cases will appear in the county.
“The news of a COVID-19 case in our county is not a surprise. We have community interventions in place that are designed to slow transmission while lessening the impact. Our main goal is to isolate those who are ill, identify close contacts, and monitor for illness.”
As recently as March 8th, the Associated Press reported no coronavirus cases in Ohio, which only shows how fast the threat can spread. Currently, there are no CONFIRMED cases of COVID-19 in Tuscarawas County. But there are three cases in Cuyahoga County, one case in Stark County, and one case in Trumbull County.
In New Philadelphia, Law Director Marvin Fete participated in a phone conference on Thursday with the Office of General Counsel for the Ohio Department of Health.
“New Philadelphia is in a unique position because we have our own local health district for the city,” Fete says. “The city Health Department has jurisdiction over any of our citizens that would have the virus or that may have been exposed to it; however, I want to emphasize that we are working very closely with the county health department on this matter.”
Fete says that in the event someone gets infected, the state’s approach is to isolate that individual and make sure they get necessary treatment.
“A quarantine order is generally something that would be issued for people who were exposed to someone who has the virus, or in the case of a hot zone.”
Fete concludes, “While there is no need to panic, the COVID-19 is a very real and serious danger to the health and safety of our citizens, and precautions need to be taken.”
So how do you avoid coronavirus COVID-19?
First and foremost, avoid public gatherings. The more people and environments you encounter, the more likely you are to be exposed. Social-distancing has become a thing, and there’s a reason.
Next, wash your hands. For at least twenty seconds. As often as possible. Also, disinfect commonly-touched devices; switches, faucets, keyboards, phones, etc. with recommended cleaning products.
If you’re experiencing symptoms, again, stay home; and if you cough or sneeze, do so into a tissue, or your elbow, or your upper sleeve. Do not cough or sneeze into your hands.
Finally, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. But don’t do so by hoarding facial masks or surgical gloves. Medical care professionals require those resources to help combat the problem.
And in regard to social situations, Governor Mike DeWine recommends the following:
-Avoid all large gatherings, especially those indoors. And parades should be halted.
-If anyone in your home is sick, assume you are sick and stay home.
-Spring-Break students returning from foreign countries or cruise ships should be screened upon return.
-Indoor sports should continue without spectators. Outdoor sports may continue.
-At church, discontinue shaking hands. Consider discontinuing wine during Communion.
-High-risk groups (elderly and pre-conditioned) should consider not attending.
-Nursing Homes are considered high-risk. Visitors should be screened.
-Ohio prisons have stopped visitation.
-Employers with telecommunication capabilities should implement them. Work from home if you can.
The Tuscarawas County Public Library System’s Main Library will host New Philadelphia City Health Commissioner Vickie Ionno on Thursday, March 19th at 6:30 p.m., to discuss how to keep your family and community healthy.
“Keeping the public well-informed with the most current and most accurate information is always a top priority of the County Library,” says Library Director Michelle Ramsell. “This is especially important right now.’
Additionally, the TCHD will host a COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall with the opportunity to hear directly from TCHD officials on Thursday, March 26th from 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Senior citizens and those with serious underlying conditions should refrain from going to public places for the next three weeks and should utilize car services for their grocery needs. We’ve recently discovered Tuscarawas County Take Out, which showcases restaurants during the COVID-19 crisis, but there are other options available as well. Check your resources.
Above all else, be careful not to spread misinformation. Jokes, conspiracy theories, and memes have done just as much to misinform the public as lapsed media coverage. If you’re not a healthcare professional, stop ‘helping.’ You’re part of the problem.
For questions, call the Ohio Department of Health COVID-19 Call Center, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week @ 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5683).
RYAN HOUK (TuscoTV)