This is a rapidly evolving situation. Updates will be periodic but anything concerning Ohio and most especially Richland County will be added as needed. CLICK HERE for the story about Richland County’s cases of COVID-19.

What does the Governor’s “Shelter in Place” directive mean? CLICK HERE for the Frequently Asked Questions from the Ohio Department of Health.

Here’s the full list of the Essential Services in Ohio. CLICK HERE for the BIG List.

ODH Hotline Number. If you have questions regarding Coronavirus/COVID-19 please call 1-833-4ASKODH (1-833-427-5634)

Richland Public Health COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Update 3-26-2020  

The Ohio Department of Health has a hotline number. If you have questions regarding Coronavirus/COVID-19 please call 1-833-4ASKODH (1-833-427-5634)

As of 3/26/2020 (3 PM) – Updated information and numbers.

  • OHIO: As of March 26 there are 867 confirmed cases in 60 counties (145 of those cases are health care workers). There have been 15 deaths. There are 223 individuals hospitalized in Ohio with 91 in ICU. 17,316 people have been tested for COVID-19
  • U.S. has 79,082 COVID-19 cases in all 50 states and 4 jurisdictions and 1,143 deaths. That’s an increase of 11,000 cases and 116 deaths over 24 hours. The U.S. will surpass the total cases in China and possibly Italy by tomorrow.
  • Global cases: 519,899 in 198 countries/regions.
  • Global deaths: 23,588.
  • Active Cases: 373,015 of which 95% are “mild” condition.
  • Other countries with large numbers: China* (81,285 cases with 3,287 deaths), Italy (80,589, 8,215), Spain (56.197; 4,145), Germany (43,646; 239), Iran (29,406; 2,234), France (29,155; 1,696), and UK (11,658; 578). *China is adding very few cases or deaths.
  • 146,884 persons have recovered from COVID-19 including 1,864 in the U.S.

This is a rapidly evolving situation. I will send updates as I know them, especially anything concerning Ohio and most especially Richland County.

Timeline (most recent):

  • March 19: Richland County has its first confirmed case of coronavirus.
  • March 20: Ohio has its first death due to coronavirus.
  • March 22: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issues a “Shelter at Home” order
  • March 26: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine re-emphasizes the importance of social distancing

The Ohio Department of Health has expanded its “Checklist” for COVID-19. Checkout these useful online articles at: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/home/covid-19-checklists/covid-19-checklists

Latest Updates from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

Latest Updates from ODH: https://coronavirus.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/covid-19/

The following information is from the Ohio Department of Health

PREVENTION

Use personal prevention protection methods at all times, whether at home, work, school, community events, or elsewhere:

§  Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.

§  Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.

§  Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing.

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

§  Stay home when you are sick.

§  Avoid contact with people who are sick.

·      Keep soap, hand sanitizer, and tissues on hand. Make them easily accessible at home and carry with you when possible.

·      Keep household cleaning spray or wipes readily available. Always use according to label instructions.

·      Clean “high-touch” surfaces daily. These include counters, tabletops, doorknobs, light switches, bathroom fixtures, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets, and bedside tables. Also clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them.

·      Don’t share personal items such as water bottles.

·      Keep informed of recommendations of public health officials at www.cdc.gov, www.odh.ohio.gov, and your local health department web site.

Richland Public Health continues to see social media posts that are full of false facts, mistruths, and rumors.

For the best information, use the links at the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) or Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and follow the good advice from credible sources like the CDC, ODH, World Health Organization (WHO) or Richland Public Health. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are NOT good places to get accurate information unless associated with a local or state health department or a government health agency.

Richland County Update: Pep Boys corporate office confirms that an employee at the Lexington-Springmill (Ontario) location falsely claimed to have tested positive for COVID-19. Click HERE for the statement.

A Plea for Personal Protective Equipment:
If you have listened to the State updates, you have heard that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is in very short supply. Our local EMA Director, Rick Evans, is sending out a plea to businesses that may have this material to donate to them for first responders on the front lines of this crisis. That would include things like surgical masks, N95 masks, gloves, gowns, and more. Please call EMA at 419-774-5686 to arrange for pick up or drop off. This is an urgent need to protect our responders. Please help if able!

Resources for information about COVID-19 (updated 3/18/20)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can infect people and animals. These kinds of viruses can cause the common cold, or more serious diseases like SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and COVID-19, which is the newest strain that first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. The COVID-19 virus has since been carried by travelers to countries around the world.

In COVID-19, CO stands for corona, VI for virus, and D for disease. It has also been called the 2019 novel coronavirus and 2019-nCOV.

How does the new coronavirus spread?

The new virus is spreading easily from person to person, usually those within about 6 feet of each other. It can spread easier and cause more infections than other coronaviruses because it’s a new strain that people haven’t yet built an immunity to.

The new virus is believed to be spread through respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs, just like the flu. These droplets can be inhaled by others or land in their mouths or noses. You may be able to get infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes. But it’s not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

People appear to be most contagious when they are the sickest or have the most symptoms. Some people have spread the disease without showing any symptoms, but this is less common.

That being said, COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning more about how it spreads.

What are the symptoms of the new coronavirus?

Symptoms seen with this strain range from being mildly sick with fever, cough and shortness of breath, to being severely ill. Most people only develop mild symptoms, but people over 60 and those who have other health condition can develop more serious symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.

How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

Symptoms of the new virus are believed to appear two to 14 days after exposure.

How can I protect myself?

You should follow these tips to reduce your risk of the new coronavirus, as well as any cold, flu or respiratory virus:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

What should I do if I think I might be infected?

You should call your medical provider if you:

  • Feel sick with fever, cough or have difficulty breathing and
  • Have been close to someone infected with the new coronavirus.
  • Or have recently traveled to a location known to have active cases of COVID-19.

Call your medical provider before your visit to discuss your risks and symptoms. This will help limit exposure to other people and prepare your provider for an evaluation. If you are sick, do not travel or go out to reduce the possibility of exposing others to your illness.

Can I get tested for the new coronavirus?

The average person does not need to be tested for the coronavirus. If your medical provider believes you are at risk, they will work with the state public health department and CDC to determine if and where you need to be tested.

What will happen if they determine I have the new coronavirus?

The CDC recommends that anyone who is actively sick with COVID-19 be isolated at home or at a hospital (depending on how sick they are) until they are better or no longer pose a risk of infecting others. This time period can vary from person to person, so the decision to release someone from isolation is made on a case-by-case basis by doctors, infection prevention and control experts and public health officials. Disease severity, illness signs and symptoms, and test results are considered.

How is the new coronavirus treated?

At this time, there is no vaccine or medication for this strain. If you are infected, your medical provider will recommend rest, fluids and medication to control your fever or relieve symptoms. Severe cases will require care to support vital organ functions.

Updated by Richland Public Health on March 18, 2020. Developed March 2, 2020, with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Additional FAQs can be found at the CDC website here.

Want more info on COVID-19? Check out these links from the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), CDC, WHO, and other public health organizations.

Ohio Department of Health coronavirus information
Centers of Disease Control and Prevention coronavirus information
World Health Organization coronavirus information

For Frequently Updated Coronavirus Outbreak Numbers

John Hopkins University (heat map) click on name for link

World O Meter (lots of viewing options) click on name for link

Guidance on Prevention, Planning and Preparation

Richland Public Health presents some common sense ideas for individual and family COVID-2019 planning to put YOU in charge of reducing your risk of infection and reducing the chance of running out of essential foods and goods.

Are you feeling like the news about COVID-2019 is overwhelming and there’s nothing you can do about it? Start feeling more in control by planning.

Let’s break this into two main categories.

  1. Reducing Your chances of being infected
  2. Reducing the chance we will run out of essential foods and goods

1) Reducing our risk of being infected

You can do a few things and you’ve probably heard them all before. They won’t guarantee to protect us from infection, but they can reduce our risk of infection. These are just as useful for avoiding influenza (flu) virus infection during flu season and for dodging COVID-2019, if our local community is ever known to have it circulating.

These are things we can do to reduce our risk of COVID-2019 infection*.

  • Stay at least six feet away from obviously sick people.
    We’re trying to avoid receiving a cough/sneeze in the face, shaking hands, or being in the range of droplet splatter and the “drop zone”
  • Wash your hands for 20 seconds & more frequently than you do now.
    Soap and water and then dry, or an alcohol-based hand rub, and air dry
  • Try not to touch your face.
    There is a chance your unwashed fingers will have a virus on them and if you touch/rub your mouth, nose or eyes, you may introduce the virus and accidentally infect yourself. Practice this; get others to call you out when you forget. Make it a game.
  • Replace handshakes with elbow-bumps or practice no-touch greetings like “namaste” (Namaste is a traditional greeting in India said with a hand gesture, in which the palms are pressed together at the chest or head accompanied by a slight bow or arm raise).
  • Start building harm-reduction habits like pushing elevator buttons with a knuckle instead of a fingertip.

While a mask seems like a good idea, it can actually give inexperienced users a false sense of security. There is no good evidence that shows a mask to reliably prevent infection when worn by the public at large. They are useful to put on a sick person to reduce their spreading of the virus.

If you or a loved one becomes sick, call ahead before going to a doctor, urgent care or hospital and get advice on what to do. Hopefully, this message is already out there and we’ll see it more if the transmission of the virus becomes widespread.

Here are some other things to consider immediately:

  • Think through now how we will take care of sick family members while trying not to get infected. 
  • Businesses should cross-train key staff at work so one person’s absence won’t derail our organization’s ability to function.

2) Reducing your risk of running short of goods or foods (The 2-week List)

What we’re looking at here is trying to minimize the impact of any shortages of goods we rely on having at the grocery store or at the end of an online ordering system.

Don’t panic buy and don’t hoard!

Below we list things we’ll need to have in case of a more major interruption to supply; a stock that will last 2 weeks. Some of these things will last much longer and include items that may not be a top priority for authorities to keep stocked:

  • Extra prescription medications, asthma relief inhalers. Try to get a few extra months’ worth of prescription meds, if possible. Some of these may be a problem, so talk to your doctor soon.
  • Over-the-counter anti-fever and pain medications (acetaminophen and ibuprofen can go a long way to making us feel less sick)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Family pack of toilet paper
  • Vitamins (In case food shortages limit the variety in your diet)
  • Alcohol-containing hand rub
  • Soap
  • Household cleaning agents
    Bleach, floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, surface cleaning spray, laundry detergent
  • Tissues, paper towel
  • Cereals, grains, beans, lentils, pasta
  • Canned food – fish, vegetables, fruit
  • Oil, spices and flavors
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Ultra-heat treated or powdered milk
  • Soft drink or candy/chocolate for treats

Be sure to think about others you care for that may not be able to care for themselves:

  • Think about elderly relative’s needs
    Their medications, plans for care, their food supplies
  • And don’t forget about pet food and pet care
    Dry and tinned food, litter tray liners, medicines, anti-flea drops

The last-minute fresh list

In a more severe pandemic, supply chain issues may mean fresh food becomes harder to get. So this list is an add-on to the one above, and its items should be the last things to buy if you have a hint of when supplies might slow or stop for a (hopefully short) time.

  • Bread, wraps
  • Meat for freezing
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Vegetables, fruit
  • Fuel for your car

* REMEMBER: As long as the virus circulates, and as long as you have never been infected, you are susceptible to infection resulting in COVID-19. This will be the case for the rest of your life until you have been infected which should protect you from severe disease. COVID-19 is mostly a mild illness but can cause severe pneumonia in approximately 20% of cases, leading to hospitalization for weeks and in a portion of these cases, to death.

Richland Public Health prepares for any scenario where COVID-19 should begin to expand. You should prepare too.

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