There are now seven confirmed cases in the county of COVID-19, also known as the novel coronavirus, the Delaware General Health District announced Monday afternoon.
“With the increase in COVID-19 cases, the health district will not be releasing any demographic information related to confirmed cases at this point in time,” the DGHD said. “Our Disease Control and Response Unit will investigate each case through ‘contact tracing’ and contact anyone in close contact with a case in order for them to take action, including the need for isolation or quarantine. The CDC defines a close contact as being within 6 feet of a confirmed case for a prolonged period of time. A prolonged period of time can be circumstances in which you care for, live with, visit, or share a health care waiting room with the confirmed case.”
“The best thing we can all do at this point is to assume that we have community spread and do everything in our power to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community by staying home when sick, social distancing, and washing hands frequently,” Health Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson said in a statement.
The first confirmed case was announced Wednesday, March 18, by Hiddleson. That person is in their 50s and attended the Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine conference in New York City on March 7-11. The conference, which had 1,300 attendees, has four to five confirmed cases.
“It is expected this disease will continue to spread,” Hiddleson said in her statement Wednesday. “If we can limit the community’s exposure to this disease, as difficult as it may be, we can make a tremendous impact on reducing the number of cases and lives lost. Our health care system will not be able handle the large number of sick patients, as we’ve seen in the other impacted countries, if we do not implement these strategies.”
The second case of the coronavirus was announced Thursday, March 19. That individual is in their mid-20s and recently returned from a trip to Boston March 13-16.
A third case of COVID-19 was announced Friday, March 20. This individual was said to be in their 30s with recent travel history to New York state.
The first three cases are said to be recovering in isolation at their homes and were never hospitalized, the DGHD noted. No other demographics rea being released to protect each person’s privacy.
“We do not give away any personal, identifiable information about residents who may be under investigation,” the DGHD states in a Facebook post. “We’ll continue to monitor potential situations of infectious disease in the community and information will be shared as necessary to protect the public.”
Over the weekend, DGHD said the number had gone up to six, but did not provide any further details.
To put the numbers in perspective, the DGHD’s COVID-19 Planning Report states the county has a population of 205,559. There are 26,726 people 65 years old and older. There are 74,243 households, with about three persons per household. Of those, 3,425 households, or 5%, are below the poverty level. There are 11,569 households with a person that has a disability, and there are 1,788 households without a vehicle. There are 6,420 businesses, with 78,463 total employees. The daytime population during normal times would be 417.2 people per square mile.
“Portions of Delaware County are annexed to Columbus Public Health and Franklin County Public Health based on tax jurisdiction, including Dublin, Washington Township, Columbus and Westerville,” the DGHD states. “If a resident would test positive for COVID-19 in one of those jurisdictions, then the public health department in Columbus or Franklin County would handle that case, even if they reside in Delaware County.”
DGHD staff are prepared for a pandemic, Hiddleson said, although the district doesn’t provide testing or treatment for COVID-19.
“If you are sick, contact your primary care provider, your regular doctor, by phone to discuss your symptoms,” she said.
In response to the outbreak, DGHD is limiting public access to their Delaware location and has temporarily closed its Sunbury location.
Delaware County Emergency Management announced the following on social media: “We have a critical need for Personal Protective Equipment and other supplies (medical gowns, face shields, thermometers, N95 masks, sanitation supplies, etc.). If you have such items are willing assist, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to coordinate. Do not drop off supplies without coordinating with us first. The objective is to identify available resources. Let’s all work together to keep our community safe.”
A fact sheet issued by ODH states, “People who have been diagnosed with novel coronavirus have reported symptoms that may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus: fever, cough and difficulty breathing.”
The DGHD has opened a COVID Call Center at 740-368-1700 and dial 1 to connect, 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The ODH Call Center is also available to answer questions daily by calling 1-833-4-ASK-ODH from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The first death in Ohio from the coronavirus was announced Thursday by Gov. Mike DeWine: Mark Wagoner Sr., 76, a Lucas County resident. Franklin County Public Health has reported two deaths as of Monday — an 85-year-old man and an 84-year-old woman.
As of Monday at 2 p.m., there were 442 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Ohio, compared to 351 on Friday. The cases have reached 46 of Ohio’s counties, with 104 hospitalizations and 6 deaths.
The counties that have cases are: Ashland (1), Ashtabula (3), Belmont (2), Butler (17), Carroll (2), Clark (1), Clermont (5), Clinton (1), Columbiana (2), Coshocton (3), Cuyahoga (149), Darke (1), Defiance (2), Delaware (7), Erie (1), Franklin (44), Gallia (1), Geauga (2), Greene (1), Hamilton (26), Hancock (1), Highland (1), Huron (1), Knox (1), Lake (8), Licking (1), Logan (1), Lorain (24), Lucas (9), Madison (1), Mahoning (23), Marion (3), Medina (15), Miami (17), Montgomery (7), Portage (2), Richland (1), Sandusky (1), Stark (12), Summit (28), Trumbull (3), Tuscarawas (2), Union (1), Warren (5), Washington (1), Wood (2).
As of Monday afternoon, there were 366,919 confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide; with 16,097 deaths and 100,879 recoveries. China had the most cases (81,496), followed by Italy (63,928) and the United States (41,047). Italy has had the most deaths (6,078). The Hubei province of China, where the ground zero city of Wuhan is located, has had the most recoveries (59,882).
Over the past week, DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton have issued several orders closing many public places and events, such as the March 7 primary election, in order to limit groups of people to prevent the spread of the infectious disease. The latest is a “Stay at Home” order in effect today (Tuesday, March 24) through Monday, April 6, for those who do not work at an “essential business.”
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0906 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.