Champaign County’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 totaled 3 on Monday evening after increasing by 1 case over the weekend from 2 to a total of 3 from Saturday to Sunday.
According to the Champaign Health District (CHD), “from our contact tracing we were unable to determine a connection between the three confirmed cases. We have suspected community spread for some time … community spread is here in Champaign County and we need to follow all the precautions in order to reduce further spread.”
The CHD further explained, “Because we no longer receive information on suspected cases, for the most part we no longer know who is being tested except for when it is confirmed. This is why we are no longer posting numbers on negative tests. Part of our job is ensuring that the operations in the county are currently maintaining all of the state’s requirements, including grocery stores. While residents should not be concerned about infected food items as there have been no cases of COVID-19 reported from eating food, they should continue to clean and disinfect within their home as much as possible and continue to adhere to all other precautions.”
To lower the risk of catching any respiratory illness, the CHD emphasizes these practices:
-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.
-Avoid contact with people who are sick.
-Stay home while you are sick (except to visit a healthcare professional) and avoid close contact with others.
-Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
-Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
Donations to Mercy Health
As health care facilities throughout the country currently face supply shortages, Mercy Health announced in a prepared statement it “appreciates the many willing individuals and organizations looking to donate needed items to us during the COVID-19 outbreak.“
To make this process as smooth as possible, Mercy has created a central donation mechanism for anyone looking to donate supplies to Mercy facilities.
Currently, Mercy is accepting donations of the following items:
In a prepared statement, Mercy officials wrote: “In regards to handmade and non-clinical masks, standard issue masks are still the best way to protect our health care professionals. However, for the time being, we will be accepting handmade mask donations. These masks will go through an evaluation process before being used by either a health care associate or a patient. Please check out the step-by-step instructions for creating masks, if you’re interested!
“As we have any additional needs or details regarding donated supplies, we will continue to update Mercy.com with new information. Our quality, safety, supply chain and clinical teams are all working together to evaluate the donations being gathered. To protect the health and safety of our patients and care teams, donations should NOT be brought directly to our facilities. If you don’t have supplies and would instead like to make a financial donation to support our teams on the frontline, visit our foundation website.”
To communicate about supply donations, email APRush@bshsi.org with subject line: DONATION or call 888-383-8000.
Mercy Health patient billing for COVID-19 Care
As part of an ongoing effort to help patients and communities manage the impact of COVID-19, Mercy Health has suspended all COVID-19 related patient statements and billing. This removes any financial barriers to accessing care and treatment, which is part of the ongoing commitment to care for all people in need, with high-quality care, regardless of their ability to pay.
In addition, if a patient receives treatment related to COVID-19, no upfront payments will be required at the time of service.
Mercy Health will bill insurance but will suspend patient statements until it finalizes details with insurance companies, lab partners, state and federal governments.
Mercy Health is part of Bon Secours Mercy Health, which provides nearly $2 million per day in community benefit care to communities it serves.
Golf courses: Open or not?
Confusion has built around whether golf courses are essential operations during the pandemic. The state has adjusted its recommendations more than once as developments unfold.
Most recently, the state has deferred to local health authorities to determine if golf course operations are permitted during Ohio’s stay-at-home orders.
According to the Champaign Health District, “if the golf course is operating as an outdoor recreation opportunity and abiding by all of the order’s social distancing requirements, there is likely not a health concern. However, if the golf course is operating other businesses as part of the operations (restaurants, clubhouse, spa, etc.), then we are asking them to explain why they deem those operations essential. We are reaching out to all the courses here and have passed on this message.”
Golfers are encouraged to contact any course they plan to visit before they arrive on the grounds. Some golf courses are requiring tee times and special rules for using motorized carts are being enforced to accommodate social distancing. Champaign County has two privately-owned golf courses that operate on a daily rate for members of the public: Lakeland near St. Paris and Woodland near Cable. The Urbana Country Club is a private facility for members only and is not open to the general public.
National shutdown extended
Bracing the nation for a grim death toll, President Trump on Sunday extended the voluntary national shutdown for a month, bowing to public-health experts who told him the coronavirus pandemic could claim over 100,000 lives in the U.S., perhaps significantly more, if not enough is done to fight it.
The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government expired Monday and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the national guidelines at least in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic. But instead he decided to extend them through April 30.
Developments at the state level
After pushback from Gov. Mike DeWine, the FDA authorized Battelle to deploy a system in Ohio, New York and Washington state that can sanitize 160,000 face masks a day. The FDA initially approved only 10,000 masks a day.
DeWine on Monday announced Ohio schools will remain closed until May 1 to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. That extends his school-shutdown order another three weeks, after which it will be evaluated again.
A prison employee at the Marion Correctional Institution tested positive for the coronavirus, officials reported, marking the first such occurrence in Ohio. The Ohio Supreme Court was considering a lawsuit by an inmate seeking release from Belmont Correctional Facility over fears of the virus.
The state has updated its Support Local Ohio website promoting Ohio businesses with online options across the state and allowing businesses to create their own listings.
At Miami University, officials are already considering the possibility the pandemic will prevent students from returning to campus next fall, with an email to department heads soliciting suggestions for more courses to be taught online and discussing an expected sharp drop in attendance, according to The Enquirer.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman said Monday he is donating two months of his Senate salary to organizations helping to fight the pandemic in Ohio. The multi-millionaire Republican said he wants to help individuals and businesses struggling to stay financially afloat. The roughly $29,000 will be divided among five regional groups: the Cleveland Foundation COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, the Columbus Foundation Emergency Response Fund, the United Way and Greater Cincinnati Foundation local nonprofit fund, the Southeast Ohio Food Bank and the Greater Toledo Community Foundation Covid-19 Response.