For the majority of Thursday’s meeting, the Delaware County Board of Commissioners was educated on the response that the Delaware General Health District is taking for COVID-19. Health Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson stressed the focus on staying ahead of the virus by mitigating the spread as best the public can.
While no cases of infection have been recorded in the county, there have been four positive cases reported as of Thursday morning in the state of Ohio. Of those four cases, three were from residents in Cuyahoga County and the remaining lives in Stark County.
The fourth positive case was that of a man who had not traveled anywhere the virus was spreading, thus bringing health officials to the conclusion that the virus is now beginning to spread throughout the community.
Hiddleson began her remarks by stating, “Obviously, at the health district, our goal is to always protect you all.”
Hiddleson put the new COVID-19 virus into perspective by comparing it to previous pandemics. The infection rate for COVID-19 is higher than that of the flu but is nowhere near the level of measles.
The biggest unknown regarding the virus is how long it can live on surfaces once droplets land there. Hiddleson emphasized the need to wipe down surfaces and maintaining at least 3-6 feet of distance between others.
As far as the definition of large gatherings that need to be canceled, that number is determined by multiple factors such as whether there is community spread occurring, the venue of the meeting, who is in the audience, and the closeness of those in attendance at the meeting.
“I am 99.9% positive we are never going be testing well people,” explained Hiddleson. Testing for COVID-19 is not going to be treated as a screening such as is done with certain cancers.
Testing is possible in Ohio through the Ohio Department of Health, but the only people who are being tested are those who have the most risk of being exposed. There are strict criteria for being tested until there are more tests available.
Hiddleson told commissioners there is no evidence of any positive cases in the county or any community spread taking place, and she added a vaccine is being created but is not set to be finished for another 12 to 18 months.
For those individuals who do not meet the criteria and would still like to be tested, the DGHD recommends people reach out to their physician to see if that is available to them. The public can also reach out to the Ohio Department of Health’s call center at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).
The public is invited to sign up for the health district’s newsletter by visiting delawarehealth.org.
Alex Hulvalchick can be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @amhulvalchick.