The novel coronavirus has yet to gain traction in Ohio, but the Fulton County Health Department advises that area residents take proactive measures now to avoid the potential threat.
[Governor Mike DeWine reported Monday after press time that three people in Ohio had tested positive for COVID-19]
Reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week showed in the U.S. there were 164 cases of the virus – also known as COVID-19 – in 19 states, with at least 11 deaths confirmed. Other reports show over 500 cases in the U.S. Reported cases have included people exposed to the illness by others who contracted it during overseas visits.
First detected in China, and presumably originating in bats, COVID-19 has been found in over 101,000 cases in 100 international locations, including the United States, leading to over 3,400 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Efforts to contain the virus have led to entire cities in China being quarantined, as well as cruise ships in international waters.
The novel coronavirus is exhibited in symptoms similar to those of influenza: fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Marissa Dopp, director of nursing for the Fulton County Health Department (FCHD), said COVID-19 can be combated by taking action to prevent the spread of respiratory diseases including seasonal flu. That includes hand washing, cough etiquette, and staying home when ill.
She said Fulton County residents are currently at low-risk for COVID-19, but that risk is dependent on exposure. “Those who reside in or have traveled from an area with ongoing community-wide transmission of COVID-19 or who have been in close contact with an individual infected with COVID-19 are also of high risk,” she said.
People who have traveled to an area of the country now reporting COVID-19 should notify their health care providers of possible contact, Dopp said. If they feel they need emergency treatment they should call 911 with their concerns. If they’re not certain whether medical attention is necessary they can contact the FCHD with questions at 419-337-0915.
Speaking to media reports of people hoarding masks and other protective wear, Dopp said that trend could create a shortage that would pose a risk to health care workers treating people with infectious diseases. Health officials have issued an advisory that the types of masks people are hoarding don’t block coronavirus.
The FCHD currently has no one locally under investigation for COVID-19, and continues to review CDC and Ohio Department of Health guidelines in the event it’s necessary to put a protocol for the virus in place. Dopp said the department has discussed COVID-19 with the county EMS director, the sheriff’s office, local school administrators, and other agencies in an effort to maintain county residents’ health.
She said the department has used its website and social media outlets to provide updated information on coronavirus and share guidelines in case of an outbreak.
“Education is key to ensure the community is receiving factual information about the situation,” she said.
The far-reaching virus has affected at least one area business. Don Bates, owner of MLB Molded Urethane Products in Swanton, said he’s received an influx of of requests for quotes from regional companies whose imported materials are being quarantined on foreign docks due to COVID-19.
“They’re looking at resourcing in the U.S.A. because they’re not getting their usual stuff from overseas,” he said.
His own business receives hardly any materials from overseas. What it does get comes through a common carrier that has already placed it through their own protective procedures.
Bates said MLB has less than 10 employees, so an internal protocol for dealing with a potential coronavirus outbreak isn’t necessary. “We’d probably just tell everybody to stay home,” he said.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.