Ohio announces 3 positive tests as state’s 1st virus cases

Staff Report

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio on Monday announced the state’s first confirmed cases of the new coronavirus that has sickened people around the globe.

Three people have tested positive for the virus. The locations of those people is not yet known.

The State Health Department said the case was confirmed as part of testing done last week. Eight people had previously tested negative after exhibiting symptoms of pulmonary virus either after travel to China or coming into contact with someone with the disease known as COVID-19, according to Health Department records.

The state held a coronavirus summit Friday for local public health officials, and Gov. Mike DeWine said it was only a matter of time before the illness came to the state.

Also Friday, Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton ordered a sharp reduction in spectators at the annual Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over coronavirus fears.

On Saturday, Governor Mike DeWine and Dr. Acton announced the state’s protocol for maximizing coronavirus testing resources now that in-state testing is available.

“As the COVID-19 situation evolves, the Ohio Department of Health, working in conjunction with hospitals, primary care providers, and other health care experts, has a plan to maximize our testing resources. We are prioritizing the patients who are the most vulnerable to be tested in the Department of Health’s State Laboratory, while ensuring those that need COVID-19 testing will be able to be tested,” said Governor DeWine.

“We want to reassure Ohioans so there is no confusion. Information is critical to managing an outbreak of any infectious disease, and testing at our state lab offers the greatest ability for all of us to make the best decisions to protect the health of the greatest number of people. We will now be able to turn around results in an estimated 24-48 hours,” said Dr. Acton.

For those who are hospitalized and meet the following criteria, samples will be sent to the ODH state lab:

  • Have a fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness, (e.g., cough or shortness of breath) and have had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset.
  • Have a fever and signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness, and a history of travel from affected geographic areas with widespread or sustained community transmission within 14 days of symptom onset.
  • Have a fever with severe acute lower respiratory illness and lack of alternative diagnosis (e.g., negative respiratory viral panel, negative rapid flu).

For individuals who are not hospitalized but meet the above criteria, calling a physician or other healthcare provider is appropriate. If that healthcare provider determines a COVID-19 test is necessary, those samples are sent to private labs who now have the capability to test.

ODH will continue to confirm all positive tests, regardless of where testing took place. In addition, ODH in partnership with local health departments will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 in Ohio.

ODH will now also share updates on confirmed cases and Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) every day on the ODH website by 2 p.m. That now includes weekends.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has opened a call center to answer questions regarding coronavirus (COVID-19).

The call center will be open 7 days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can be reached at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

Call center staff includes licensed nurses and infectious disease experts. They will be available to answer questions and provide accurate information about COVID-19, the risk to the public, and the state’s response.

There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio. The number of potential cases and the results of testing are regularly updated every weekday at coronavirus.ohio.gov. While the general risk to the public in Ohio is still considered low, it is important to continue to follow standard precautions to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

To prevent the spread of any virus including novel coronavirus, practice these preventative measures:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water;
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
  • Stay home when you are sick; Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Additional information and guidance on COVID-19 is available at ODH’s new website, coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Information from the Associated Press, Governor Mike DeWine’s Office and the Ohio Department of Health.

Staff Report