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DeWine closes salons, urges only highest-risk Ohioans to seek COVID-19 testing

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Posted at 2:01 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 18:28:53-04

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.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine ordered the closure of more customer-facing businesses Wednesday, including nail salons, hairdressers and barbershops, and emphasized again the need to conserve COVID-19 tests for the people who need them most: The elderly, the immunocompromised and those exhibiting the most severe symptoms.

Most people who begin to experience symptoms do not need a test, he said. They need to stay at home and obey social-distancing instructions. In order to conserve personal protective equipment and the safety of healthcare workers, only patients who are members of at-risk groups should seek hospital treatment and testing.

“Here is the truth: With or without a test, the virus is here,” DeWine said. “It lives among us, and we must be at war with it, and we are at war with a very, very dangerous and lethal enemy.

“This virus’s mission is to reproduce, and for it to go from person to person, it needs our help. It cannot do its damage without us. We become the enablers. We become the ones who make it able to jump from person to person to person.”

The best thing Ohioans can do is to stay inside, he said.

DeWine also shut down all but five of the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices, closed facilities that provide driving examinations and instructed officers of the Ohio State Highway Patrol not to issue tickets to people whose licenses expire during the pandemic. The only licenses that will still be issued during the pandemic will be commercial driver’s licenses.

QUESTIONS? Here's the BMV's official FAQ about your driver's license, travel and more during COVID-19

He instructed companies to begin temperature-testing all employees who remain working in offices rather from home, and he urged ordinary Ohioans to do everything possible in order to limit their own exposure.

“It’s on us — each and every one of us,” he said. “And it will take each one of us, certainly, to win this battle.”

Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton shared the latest diagnosis numbers from the state but emphasized again that the number of diagnoses at any given time is only a snapshot of the larger problem.

"We have not had testing until recently, and as you’re hearing in all the national news channels lately, we have a shortage of tests," she said.

Eighty-eight people in 19 counties have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The youngest is a 2-year-old child receiving hospital treatment; the oldest is 91. The median age of patients continues to hover around 48 years old.

Acton also outlined the history of Ohio's interaction with the novel coronavirus, which first manifested in the city of Wuhan, China. Hubei, the province in which Wuhan is located, is officially a sister state of Ohio; that family bond has, over time, created a large number of international business and educational relationships between organizations in both states.

Her department began preparing its COVID-19 response shortly after the first cases were diagnosed in Wuhan and began rolling out protective measures early, she said, but struggled until early March to obtain a functional testing kit. The first kit they received contained two testing reagents that did not work.

Health officials continue to struggle with shortages of tests and personal protective equipment, according to Acton. She repeated DeWine's plea that people not seek testing unless they have cause for serious concern. Because no COVID-19-specific medication yet exists and 80% of patients can expect to recover, most cases will not require treatment more intensive than "a very bad flu."

Acton said the best thing most people, sick or not, can do is stay home.

“We will get to the other side of this, and we will stick with you every step of the way and give you guidance," she said. "We will come to you every day and talk you through what is ahead, and we will do this together.”
Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:

Ohio

  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH, Cincinnati's Health Department hotline: 513-357-7462
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.

Kentucky

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

Indiana

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 45 countries 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.