County officials discuss COVID-19 before stay-at-home order goes into place

Posted at 11:15 AM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 11:18:33-04

Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.

As Ohio residents prepare to stay at home for the coming days during the COVID-19 pandemic, Hamilton County officials clarified what "stay at home" means for the people in the county.

"The intent is for people to stay home," Interim Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said Monday morning. "Is it O.K. to play outside? Absolutely. It is very healthy to hike, to run, ride a bike. All those activities are O.K., but we should do them with our family that we are spending our time with at home."

Kesterman also said that even though there is an except made for weddings and funerals, these are still gatherings and create an "opportunity" for the virus to spread.

"Right now, we should make those tough sacrifices so we can protect our community," Kesterman said.

You can read the full stay-at-home order here.

Officials also said the first shipment of personal protective equipment (PPE) will be arriving in the next day or two. Kesterman said the hope is that with this shipment, hospital workers will be prepared handle the virus at its peak in the county.

In addition to getting more PPEs and using more resources, Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus said county officials are discussing using empty living spaces, like hotel rooms and dorm rooms, in place of hospital rooms in case the number of those hopsitalized with COVID-19 surpasses the number of hospital rooms and beds available.

"All of these things have been discussed internally," Driehaus said. "The right people are talking to the right people, and so I am confident that they are doing the work to make sure that we are prepared once we have that kind of need."

Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:

Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.

State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.

SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail
See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.