WOOD COUNTY – A northwest Ohio couple has been diagnosed with coronavirus, according to the health commissioner.
The two residents are a couple in their 60s, who had traveled to Europe, said Ben Batey.
Rossford Mayor Neil MacKinnon said that the couple is from his city.
“Two Rossford residents in their 60s have tested positive for coronavirus after traveling internationally. I’m told upon returning home they both self quarantined at home and only left the house to go through a testing drive-thru,” MacKinnon said in a Facebook post.
Batey also said that the couple hasn’t had any contact with the outside world.
“When they came back, they were already isolated, the minute they came home,” he said.
They have been self quarantined in their home and do not need to be hospitalized.
“We have been diligently following up with them and they are recovering at home,” Batey said.
The announcement was made Sunday in a Facebook Live post, adhering to social distancing guidelines, he said. The media was able to ask questions later in the afternoon during a phone call.
Batey said that the couple had been in Spain and perhaps other parts of Europe. He said he had not talked with them personally and did not know their exact steps after flying home. He declined to give more specifics.
As a policy, the health department will only release gender, a general age and diagnosis.
There is no testing for the masses in Wood County, only for first responders and those who are seriously ill. Batey said that the couple got their test through a St. Luke’s Hospital drive-thru after getting an order from their doctor. St. Luke’s is in Maumee in Lucas County.
“They had returned from a trip to Europe. They had come down with symptoms even prior to their return,” Batey said.
Wood County case numbers will be difficult to nail down without widespread testing, such as the drive-thru that had been planned.
“That’s a very difficult question,” Batey said about Wood County residents being diagnosed. “Several have been tested.”
He said that the county is in the beginning stages of coronavirus cases.
“This is our first confirmed case. … This is absolutely the beginning. We will have more cases. We will have larger numbers,” Batey said. “It is here and it is happening.”
The governor on Sunday issued a “shelter-in-place” order, essentially telling everyone to stay home. This is through April 6 (see page 3 for story).
Batey said that his department will have a role in the governor’s order, but common sense should prevail among people.
“The health department is not going to make a determination on every single business,” he said, “but we will respond to complaints.”
Batey said he already had emails and voice mails from companies who are asking if they are essential.
“The governor put that order out. … He needs a good-faith effort from business. He needs business to take this seriously,” he said. “What is for the good of the community right now.
“He mentioned common sense and that’s what we need right now.”
Owners of essential businesses that remain open should make sure employees are remaining 6 feet apart at all times throughout the day, continue to sanitize surfaces and limit customers, he said.
Law enforcement officers will not be pulling people over for being out, in this early stage of the order, Batey said.
“That common sense aspect needs to apply to individuals as well — we all need to do what’s right,” he said. “‘Do I absolutely have to go out?’ … If the answer’s no, they really should stay home.”
Trips to get supplies and groceries should be limited, with one family member venturing out to a single store, Batey said.
“We need the streets to become quiet,” he said.
Batey said the coronavirus crisis could be long.
“I believe were in the beginning stages of this and I think it’s going to be more than a couple weeks of living in a different fashion,” he said.
Batey said that the United States has been able to learn from other countries as they deal with coronavirus. But a disadvantage is a lot of the supplies have been used.
“We have a global economy and a lot of supplies come from overseas,” he said. “When their system is impacted, ours is as well.”
More testing would be ideal, Batey said.
“Drive-thru testing would have been a huge advantage to us,” he said. “That is a challenge for us in local public health. … A lot of the supplies are just unavilable now.”
Batey emphasized washing hands, disinfecting surfaces and staying home if you’re sick.
“You can overcome just being at home, perfectly fine, without need for invasive medical care,” Batey said, specifially mentioning the Wood County couple that has been diagnosed.
During the Facebook Live post, Jeff Klein, director of the Wood County Emergency Management Agency, issued a call for supplies.
“If have you supplies that you are able to donate, please reach out,” Klein said.
Wood County Hospital staff, doctors and nurses are as ready as they can be for coronavirus cases, according to the president.
“Our staff is calm, cool and collected and really prepared for this. The community should take comfort in that,” Stan Korducki said in a phone interview late Friday.
“This is a pandemic. It’s a new illness. It is not the first one we’ve had in this country and we’ve been through them before. We will get through this.”
The interview with Korducki was done just after the Wood County Health Department announced that any COVID-19 testing would be saved for hospitalized patients and health care workers.
Korducki said that the hospital was ready to set up a testing center last week, most likely a drive-thru, accessible with a physician’s order.
“We held off after looking at the number of test kits,” he said, adding that there was also guidance by the Ohio Department of Health.
It’s best that the tests are limited to severely ill patients and health care workers at risk due to exposure, Korducki said.
“That’s the mode we’re operating in right now. I know there are efforts to produce more kits.”
He hopes that aggressive moves in the state, such as school and restaurant closures, along with social distancing, pay off with fewer cases and less severe ones.
“Avoid the illness — if we limit that then the acute cases, we should be ready to take care of people,” Korducki said.
Last week, Batey said that the area will experience a wave of cases in two to four weeks. He also said that 80-90% of everyone who gets the virus will find it manageable, like a typical, mild to moderate cold or flu.
At the West Wooster Street hospital there is a lot of capacity, Korducki said. By canceling all elective surgeries, as directed by Gov. Mike DeWine last week, there are many extra beds available.
“We are very much prepared,” added Cristy Walton, vice president of development at the hospital.
She also said that the emergency room and urgent care remain open.
“We are still doing our everyday business for our community,” she said.
Anyone who has an appointment at the hospital, for example, in radiology or with a primary care physician at the hospital, should call ahead, Walton said.
The administration on Thursday enacted some stricter polices about coming into the hospital.
They include taking the temperature of everyone who comes into the building. No one may access the building with a temperature of 100.4 degrees or higher.
All visitors must be free from cough, fever and any other illness symptoms.
No visitors under the age of 18 are allowed. Visitors are limited to one per room. Daily hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Korducki said he was on a conference call with other hospital leaders around the state and DeWine on Friday afternoon.
“This has been an ongoing effort to track this virus, understand this virus, marshal resources and organize resources for things that are happening or potentially could be happening,” he said.
“There are a lot of people really focused on how to take care of the community here and really all across the state.”
Korducki said that masks and personal protective gear are fairly well stocked at the hospital.
“Clearly there’s pressure on the supply chain,” he said. “Everyone is asking for a little bit more of what they customarily order.”
Korducki said the challenges will continue and change.
“This is a marathon now and everyday is a little bit different.”