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It’s here! Stay home!

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Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, a podium, City Manager Patrick Duhaney and Cincinnati Health Commissioner Melba Moore provide one of their daily updates about the COVID (coronavirus situation in the city. Photo provided by WCPO Channel 9

By Marla Fuller

Cincinnati Health Department

and Mike Samet

Hamilton County Health Department

Cincinnati and Hamilton County officials are reporting the first cases of coronavirus (COVID) infections accompanied by stringent warnings residents to stay home.

The Cincinnati Health Department (CHD) and the Hamilton County Health Department (HCHD) have received notification of confirmed positive test results for the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in local residents. These are the first confirmed positive test results in Cincinnati and Hamilton County. 

According the Cincinnati Health Department, the three individuals in Cincinnati who tested positive include two males and one female, ages ranging from 31-70 years. All individuals are home in quarantine and recovering. 

In order to protect the individuals’ privacy, CHD will not be releasing any additional demographic information relating to these cases. The names of the hospitals providing care for individuals diagnosed with COVID-19 will not be disclosed to protect the privacy of patients and prevent disruption of hospital operations.

“We knew it was only a matter of time before Cincinnati had a confirmed case, and that is why fervent, proactive preparation has been so necessary,” said Mayor John Cranley. “This news puts us all on high alert to practice the social distancing measures we have recommended. We will all get through this. Our city has been working around the clock to prepare for this exact scenario and are putting the procedures in place necessary to keep a healthy workforce that will continue to provide clean water, police, fire and sanitation services.”

“The City of Cincinnati and CHD continue to work in partnership with regional health agencies, social service providers and area hospitals to ensure proper coordination with and adherence to CDC and ODH guidelines. The Cincinnati Health Department, CDC and hospital officials are currently in the process of identifying individuals these patients had contact with during the time they were in the community before being diagnosed. Individuals potentially exposed will be notified and evaluated. We are providing guidance on risk exposure and management for each case.

“We are also coordinating with various stakeholders on a plan to limit opportunities for community spread as well as enforcing the statewide ban on large gatherings and the closure of dine-in restaurants and bars and various other establishments.

As the virus spreads, the need for social distancing increases. For many, that means an end to handshakes and cancellation of large events. Those precautionary actions have already been established in Cincinnati.”

Earlier this month, the city activated its Emergency Operations Center to prepare for these kinds of cases, and staff will increase efforts as more cases emerge. Cranley stated that the best thing people can do is follow medical advice from our Health Department and the CDC.

Cincinnati Health Commissioner, Dr. Melba R. Moore, said that the virus is so new that there are no approved medications, nor a vaccine, and stresses that responses without medications are essential. “There are steps that all of us in the community can take now to improve basic hygiene and, also prepare for a wider spread in the future,” explained Moore.” She emphasized the following standard precautions to reduce the spread:

o Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available. 

o Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

o Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.

o Practice social distancing and avoid crowded areas whenever possible.

o Avoid contact with sick people.

o Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces – doorknobs, light switches, keyboards, etc.

o And most importantly, stay home unless it is necessary to leave.

Residents are strongly encouraged to take precautions to avoid illness. Because guidance is evolving, it’s important for people to monitor the City and CHD websites as well as the CDC websites for the latest information and guidance on COVID-19. The City of Cincinnati and CHD will continue to provide regular updates and information as it becomes available. Residents can sign up for updates by texting cincycovid19 to 77295.

For more information about COVID-19, visit the following links:

To help avoid the spread of misinformation, the City of Cincinnati asks that individuals only share information from trusted health authorities, including World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the City of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Health Department, and Hamilton County Health.

Hamilton County Public Health also announced the first confirmed positive COVID-19 in Hamilton County. The patient is a female in her 20s. She is currently in isolation at home. The patient is a New York resident staying with family in Hamilton County. 

“This patient handled her illness perfectly by going into isolation as soon as she was symptomatic, contacting a physician and meticulously following the guidelines. The patient stayed away from other family members and made those that were in contact with her aware that they should stay home as well,” says interim Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman. “This is a great example of how we can all work to flatten the curve and reduce cases of COVID-19 in Ohio.”

Hamilton County Public Health will monitor the patient during her isolation. “We will be in daily contact with the individual and with our partners at the Ohio Department of Health as we take every precaution necessary to limit the spread of this virus,” Kesterman adds.

Hamilton County Public Health is identifying close contacts of this confirmed case, all of whom will be advised to self-quarantine. 

With the stated mandated closing or service limitations imposed on schools, restaurants, bars, and the voluntary closings or limited service measures for other groups, Ohioans are urged to stay home, if possible, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

The public also can help in these ways: 

  1. If you have questions, visit coronavirus.ohio.gov for complete information.
  2. Do not go to the emergency room unless essential. Emergency rooms need to be able to serve those with the most critical needs. If you have symptoms like cough, fever, or other respiratory problems, contact your doctor first. 
  3. Stay home when sick. 
  4. Practice good personal hygiene habits, including handwashing, coughing into a tissue or your elbow, avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth.
  5. Stay away from people who are ill, especially if you are 60 and older or have underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or a weakened immune system. 
  6. Stay informed. Information is changing rapidly. Check and subscribe to Hamilton County Public Health’s website at www.hcph.org; visit the Ohio Department of Health at coronavirus.ohio.gov; or the CDC at cdc.gov 

You may also call the Ohio Department of Health call center at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634) seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“Preventing the spread of diseases is the foundation of public health, and it is what we are trained to do,” Kesterman said. “We investigate communicable diseases on a daily basis to protect the health of our residents. The only difference in this case is that it is a new virus and we are still learning about it.”

The 2019 novel coronavirus was first identified in Wuhan, China in December 2019. The virus can spread from an infected person to another person through close (within about six feet) personal contact, usually through droplets from a sneeze or a cough.

The novel coronavirus is a respiratory illness and symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing. It can take as many as 14 days for the symptoms to appear after a person has been exposed to the virus.

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