Good Afternoon Partners,
Yesterday’s (Mar. 18) press conference from Governor DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton spoke directly to what we have been facing in our own community in regards to testing capacity and the assumption of community spread. The majority of the calls we are receiving at the Union County Health Department center around testing and frustration with lack of testing. Please view Health Commissioner Orcena’s short video regarding community spread and its implication on testing for COVID-19 on the Union County Health Department Facebook Page. I encourage you to also watch the replay of Governor DeWine and Dr. Acton’s statements today which can be found on The Ohio Channel so you can hear her directly. Below are some important takeaways from Governor DeWine’s press conference and local updates.
Testing update: Union County has a significant shortage of testing supplies for COVID-19. Governor DeWine reiterated today that this is not unique to Union County. Testing capacity in Ohio is limited. Governor DeWine further stated testing capacity across the U.S. is limited. It will likely remain limited.
Testing is being conserved for patients with severe illness (typically requiring hospitalization) and healthcare workers and others with known or likely exposure to COVID-19. Testing is not being done on well people. Testing is not being done on people with mild or moderate illness. If a doctor feels testing is necessary to inform care for a patient with underlying medical conditions and moderate illness, this decision is made on a case by case basis in conjunction with public health.
We have it within our control to fight this virus: We are asking everyone to understand testing is not the only tool we have. As we now know community spread is happening across Ohio, self-isolation (separating sick people from well people) and self-quarantine (separating close contacts of an ill person and others who may have been exposed) are crucial strategies we must implement.
When we stop moving, this virus stops moving. We urge people who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (fever, cough, and/or shortness of breath) to stay home if they are sick. CDC guidance recommends people who have COVID-19 stay home for 72 hours after your fever is gone without the aid of a fever reducer AND make sure it has been at least 7 days since your symptoms start. We must adhere to public health guidance to self-isolate if we are ill and self-quarantine if we are a close contact of an ill person.
Most can manage their symptoms at home: Data indicates 80-88% of people who contract COVID-19 will have mild illness, or no symptoms at all. That means that most people are going to be able to take care of themselves at home. Dr. Acton advised that most will be able to treat this like a very bad cold or case of the flu.
Stay physically apart but socially connected: We are all in this together. The actions each one of us takes today, tomorrow and moving forward matters. Practice social distancing. Stay six feet apart. Don’t partake in social gatherings. Limit how much we go out. Find ways to stay connected through electronic means. Look after our elderly and medically fragile neighbors and do so in a manner in which we can stay six feet apart.
We should only do those things that are essential: Governor DeWine urged Ohioans that we must stay home as much as possible. We should only go out when it is essential. He asked businesses to again review who are essential employees. The more we interact with one another, the more opportunity the virus has to spread.
People age 65 and older should not leave their home unless it is essential: The fatality rate for people age 65 and older is 15x’s that of younger people. Now is the time for older adults to stay home. Family members and neighbors, now is the time to call your parents, grandparents, and elderly neighbors and see how you can help them.
Grocery stores, banks, pharmacies will remain open: Per Governor DeWine, these life lines will remain open. The drastic steps taken thus far to limit all non-essential functions have been done so in order to keep essential services like groceries, pharmacies, and banks open. The goal is to keep open the things we need to live.
Support service agencies and groups are organizing to prepare for an influx of needs: The United Way of Union County is coordinating the effort to organize our vast network of support service agencies. United Way is reporting through the Union County Emergency Operation Center to identify opportunities for volunteers, create a referral process, and help coordinate a cohesive approach to responding to what will surely be a sizeable increase in requests for social services.
No confirmed cases have been reported for Union County: There are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported for Union County.