Virus update: UFD, JSP using routine response procedures; UU going to online classes

By Kathy Fox -

The Urbana Fire Division and the JSP Joint Fire District have not changed procedures when responding to people who are ill, according to John Flora, UFD’s EMS coordinator, and Capt. John Monaghan, JSP’s public information officer, when asked about changes due to COVID-19.

“The coronavirus is common,” Flora said. “This (COVID-19) is a new strain. It’s treated like the flu.

“The transmission (of coronavirus) is similar to other viruses,” he said, explaining that the flu, coronaviruses and similar illnesses are spread through respiratory droplets. He added that with no new procedures offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or from other agencies, the UFD is maintaining standard procedures when treating patients.

UFD personnel are not wearing masks, although sometimes they place surgical masks on patients.

“If someone is presenting with an active cough or is generally ill-looking, it’s not uncommon to put a mask on the patient,” he said, explaining that is to protect medical personnel and anyone else in contact with a patient.

Other standard UFD procedures include donning a new pair of gloves when treating each patient, then tossing them. It also means wearing eye protection if there is a chance of respiratory droplets. Another standard procedure is to decontaminate gear after treating each patient.

Flora advised people to follow routine advice. “A lot of this is common sense. Stay home if you’re sick, and avoid people who are sick. Wash your hands after using the bathroom and before preparing or eating food.” He said hand sanitizers should be used if soap and water are unavailable.

Flora recommended people visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website,, which he said has “a lot of good, usable information.”

Standard procedures also are being maintained by JSP responders.

“There is not any specific COVID-19 training as general precautions are no different than for the common flu,” Monaghan said.

“Our responders have been instructed to utilize masks for both themselves and our patients,” he added. “When our units are dispatched to a call with flu-like symptoms the patient will be supplied a mask to wear along with the responders.”

Monaghan said responders routinely wear exam gloves with every patient and, as usual, equipment is disinfected following every response.

“I feel that it is important for any patient that calls 911 to inform dispatch if they are running a fever and inform EMS upon their arrival as well,” he said. “It is also important to advise 911 and EMS if they have traveled out of the country within the previous two weeks or had contact with someone that is confirmed or suspected of having COVID-19.”

UU among universities to convert to online-only classes

Urbana University on Tuesday announced that classroom classes would be converted to online-only classes March 16-May 1 due to COVID-19. The university is currently on Spring Break this week. UU also is suspending university-sponsored trips and postponing non-athletic events. The university is reviewing whether to change athletic events and commencement.

Gov. Mike DeWine declared a state of emergency on Monday, announcing three confirmed as COVID-19 cases in the Cleveland area. There were still three confirmed cases in Ohio as of Tuesday afternoon. A state of emergency is an action which allows the state to buy health-related supplies without first seeking bids.

Two people diagnosed with the coronavirus had returned from a Nile cruise and the other from an international conference in Washington, D.C. As of the Tuesday afternoon daily update of the website, 15 persons are under investigation in Ohio with lab results pending, 14 other persons have tested negative and 255 persons are under health supervision after traveling and completing a self-monitoring period — but not exhibiting symptoms.

The Ohio State University has suspended face-to-face classes through March, except lab and performance lessons. Instead, classes will be conducted online.

Clark State Community College classes are going online only March 16-27.

Dr. Amy Acton, director of the state Health Department, recommends that people restrict their contact with the vulnerable, which includes people who are elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Acton advises the usual precautions: frequent hand washing, avoiding touching one’s face, shielding coughs and sneezes, and staying home if feeling unwell.

By Kathy Fox

Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331, ext. 1773.

Kathy Fox can be reached at 937-652-1331, ext. 1773.