Virus prep: Medical community says it’s ready

By Kathy Fox -

Local medical providers, the county Health District, the state Health Department, the Ohio Hospital Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say they are communicating with one another daily about the constant and changing flow of information concerning novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

“In Champaign County and Ohio, we remain at a low risk for a COVID-19 outbreak,” county Health Commissioner Gabe Jones said Friday. “There are currently no confirmed cases throughout the state.” Jones and representatives of Mercy Health and Memorial Health say recommendations of the CDC are being implemented and will change as recommendations change.

Jones said the Health District has been in contact with local school districts about the importance of hand washing by staff and students and of the cleaning of surfaces in the schools to lower the risk of any disease, including influenza.

He said he wants to discuss more detailed information about COVID-19 with the school districts next week.

“We want to assure them that we’re prepared and that they should be prepared also,” he said.

“Our general recommendation across the board is that schools continue to operate until they no longer can,” Jones said. “That comes down to not having enough teachers and not being able to find substitutes to instruct students.”

Medical providers

Mercy Health and Memorial Health issued statements when asked how they are dealing with the threat of COVID-19 in their regions and at their Champaign County facilities:

– “Our clinical leaders have implemented protocols that are consistent with CDC guidelines, and we’re closely monitoring the situation across our health care ministry.” – Nanette Bentley, PR Director, Mid-American Group, Bon Secours Mercy Health

– “Memorial Health and its related entities continue to monitor the evolution of COVID-19. In conjunction with our partners at our local Health Departments in Union and Champaign Counties, as well as the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), we are actively implementing measures in concert related to the prevention, evaluation, and treatment of coronavirus. In addition, our team continues to manage our infrastructure for infection prevention and emergency preparedness and we reassess daily, as needed. While Ohio has no identified cases at this time, Memorial continues to prepare for and monitor developments that will aid our communities when the need arises.” – Victor A. Trianfo, Chief Medical Officer for Memorial Health

Jones said the public can stay up to date on the latest COVID-19 information at or

Influenza is primary concern in Champaign County

‘Never too late to get a flu shot’

Champaign County Health Commissioner Gabe Jones notes similarities between influenza and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVD-19). Prevention tips for both include vigilant hand washing and cleaning of surfaces. Both are spread through respiratory droplets. Symptoms for both can include fever and coughing. And, the treatment for both diseases is treating the symptoms.

“The difference is that flu is here, and it’s a significantly worse flu season than the last couple years,” Jones said Friday. “We’re seeing large absenteeism in schools.” The county Health District has advised local schools to continue cleaning classrooms and encouraging hand washing among staff and students.

“With seasonal illness on the rise, influenza remains the primary concern for residents of Champaign County,” Jones said. “During the 2020 flu season, there have been 31 influenza-association hospitalizations. There were nine confirmed cases during the same time frame in 2019.”

Unlike Coronavirus Disease, there’s a vaccine for the flu, and Jones urges the vaccination for everyone.

“It’s never too late to get a flu shot,” he said, adding it’s the best way to prevent influenza.

Besides getting an annual flu shot, Jones recommends the following tips to stay healthy and reduce the spread of any disease:

– Wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soapy water. If unavailable, use hand sanitizer.

– Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

– Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.

– Stay home when you are sick (except to visit a healthcare professional) and avoid contact with others.

– Avoid exposure to others who are sick.

– Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers advice about what to keep on hand in the event of various emergencies, including self-quarantining due to sickness. The list includes ample amounts of water, nonperishable and ready-to-eat food, prescription eyeglasses, medical aids and equipment, change of clothing, first aid supplies, pet supplies and childcare and baby supplies.

For a detailed list and for other information about protecting yourself, friends and family, visit https:

By Kathy Fox

Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331.

Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331.