During the daily Ohio Department of Health update on Wednesday, the state announced 88 confirmed COVID-19 cases in 19 counties. Champaign County was not among the counties with confirmed cases.
The state’s cases include 33 women and 55 men, with 26 hospitalizations and no reported deaths. The cases include a 2-year-old boy in central Ohio and two Ohio State University employees. The oldest patient is 91.
Dr. Amy Acton, the state health director, said the state is now limiting testing to those who are hospitalized and to healthcare workers.
For most people, the virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.
First case of coronavirus in contiguous counties
A Clark County man recently discharged from Koester Pavilion Assisted Living in Troy is the first positive case of coronavirus disease linked to Miami County, as confirmed by Clark County Health Commissioner Charles Patterson following a press conference held Wednesday evening at the Clark County Education Service Center.
“Unfortunately we’re here to bring some serious news to both of our counties and the citizens of Miami Valley,” Patterson said. “We regret that we inform you that we have our first positive of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, of a Clark County resident. This is not unexpected, but we knew it was eventually going to happen, and today we do have those laboratory results.”
The Clark County Combined Health District held a joint press conference with Miami County Public Health, during which Patterson reported the male patient in his 70s, and a resident of Bethel Township in Clark County, was discharged from Koester early last week and admitted to the Dayton VA Hospital, where he began showing symptoms and was tested for COVID-19.
“We are not able to give you further details on the individual out of respect of their privacy,” Patterson said. “This is a real thing. All of the information you’ve been hearing is now hitting home for Clark and Miami counties.”
Miami County Public Health also reported the first “presumptive positive” test result for COVID-19 for a Miami County resident. The individual is a 62-year-old female resident of the Koester Pavilion Assisted Living Facility who was taken to the Upper Valley Medical Center (UVMC). Miami County Health Commissioner Dennis Propes said they are waiting confirmation testing from the Centers for Disease Control.
Both patients are currently hospitalized — the male patient at the Dayton VA Hospital and the female patient at UVMC — along with approximately three other suspect cases presenting respiratory symptoms linked to those two cases. Propes said Koester identified an additional 10 residents, six staff members, and one visitor who are considered “suspect cases,” who may have been affected by the coronavirus. The ages of those suspect cases range from 32 to 94. There are approximately a dozen female subjects and five male subjects.
“We have eight tests that are pending, and we should receive those results in the next 24 to 48 hours,” Propes said.
Propes emphasized how Koester has “done everything correctly” and has been cooperative in working with the public health districts.
“They were in compliance on the governor’s orders, and the amended order as well,” Propes said. “They did everything they were supposed to do, and it just underscores the very serious nature of what the governor was trying to prevent in his orders.”
Propes said they have given Koester, which is still in operation, recommendations on how to prevent the spread of the virus and illnesses, such as no communal meals or activities.
“This is what we’ve been preparing and planning for with all of our partners over the last several weeks and months,” Patterson said. “This is an example of how quickly the virus can spread from person to person. This is obviously a community transmission case and has healthcare and long-term care involved — all the things, of course, we feared.”
Libraries and schools
Mechanicsburg Public Library will close until further notice due to coronavirus concerns. Patrons are asked to use the library’s website to stay updated.
The Champaign County Library locations in Urbana and North Lewisburg closed facilities on Tuesday and encouraged patrons to use online and digital streaming services during the closure.
St. Paris Public Library has opted to remain open with modified hours beginning today. The state is not yet ordering libraries to close, but is instead allowing each to make its own community-based determination. For now, hours in St. Paris are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Saturday. Check with the library for the most updated hours in the days ahead.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said “it’s obvious” schools will remain closed longer than the three-week period that began Monday. He said if closures go through the school year, testing could be waived and all efforts would be made to allow eligible students to graduate.
Senior Center operations curtailed
The Urbana Champaign County Senior Center is closed until further notice and is keeping seniors updated via Facebook. State health officials have recommended Ohio residents 65 and older stay home as much as possible except for essential activities like medical appointment and essential shopping. This is a state recommendation, not an order.
New appointments for those seeking Tax-Aide assistance are not being taken. Those who already have appointments are being contacted concerning alternative arrangements.
The center’s Outreach/Pantry department is open for people in need of food. Call the center to set up a pantry appointment: 937-653-5352. Center Director Stacy Barnhart said the center is set up so there are not too many people at one time to ensure the safety of clients and staff.
Barnhart said the center has been in contact with Lifecare Alliance, which handles Meals on Wheels for Champaign County. All congregate meal/dining locations are closed, but seniors who need meals delivered should contact Lifecare Alliance at 614-278-3130 and they will make sure that meals are delivered. Also, Champaign County is in need of drivers for the Meals on Wheels program. If anyone is interested in helping, please contact Lifecare Alliance at the number above.
“At this time, we are not sure how long the center intends on being shut down,” Barnhart said. “We are keeping our seniors updated via our Facebook page and also by contacting them personally by phone to check on them.”
Civista Bank locations, including Urbana, will begin drive-thru only service at all locations beginning Thursday, March 19.
With businesses making adjustments continuously due to the coronavirus concerns, customers should be prepared for changes in hours or in-person service availability.
DeWine added barbershops, nail salons, tattoo parlors and spas to the list of businesses he ordered to shut down. The state is also closing 181 driver’s license bureaus while keeping five open to issue commercial licenses to truckers. DeWine ordered the state highway patrol to stop ticketing drivers for expired licenses and asked other law enforcement agencies to do the same.
DeWine asked all employers to immediately begin taking employees’ temperature each day, and asked they take a “liberal” approach to allowing people to work from home whenever possible.
Amazon announced it would hire 4,600 in Ohio, even as Honda, which has 15,000 Ohio employees and is the state’s largest manufacturer, said it will suspend all North American production beginning next week.
The city of Akron furloughed 1,800 workers deemed “nonessential,” giving them the option to take personal leave or file for unemployment.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services said it had received 77,817 unemployment insurance benefit applications online in the past three days, compared to 2,900 during the same three days last week. DeWine asked the U.S. Small Business Administration to allow businesses and nonprofits to apply for low-interest loans of up to $2 million that are being made available because of the coronavirus’ impact on the economy.
The Old Bag Sale to benefit the American Cancer Society, scheduled for March 29 in St. Paris, will be rescheduled due to the pandemic.
Champaign Health District COVID-19 Call Center & Email
The local health district has opened a call center for COVID-19 questions. The call center will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the phone number is 937-653-0110.
COVID-19 questions and concerns can also be sent via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ohio Department of Health call center can be reached at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH.
Red Cross seeks donors
More than 435 Red Cross blood drives in Ohio have been cancelled due to COVID-19, resulting in 12,683 fewer blood donations. The Red Cross urges people to make an appointment to give blood by visiting RedCrossBlood.org, using the Red Cross Blood Donor App, calling 1-800-RED-CROSS or enabling the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.