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Despite coronavirus outbreak, local public health officials still focusing on the flu

Still no confirmed coronavirus cases in Ohio
Posted at 11:00 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 23:23:59-05

CINCINNATI — WCPO reached out to every major local hospital Thursday to see if there were any special visitation restrictions in place due to the coronavirus, but we were told no special precautions are being taken because there hasn't been a confirmed local case yet.

Local health officials said they're currently being kept busy by another virus -- the flu.

"If it looks like the flu, walks like the flu, it's the flu," said Mary Sharpshair, family nurse practitioner at Norwood's Carefirst Urgent Care. "We're all quite busy."

Sharpshair said not enough people are getting vaccinated for the flu, and some are panicking over the coronavirus.

"I worked here last flu season and the numbers are exponentially up," Sharpshair said. "Last year, we'd see on average maybe 46 patients a day. We're hitting 70, 77 patients a day on average here now."

Christa Hyson with the Health Collaborative, a support organization for regional hospitals, said there are restrictions in place to protect those most at risk of getting the flu.

"We don't tell the hospital what to do or who can and cannot enter," Hyson said. "That is up to the individual hospital to decide, but we use those CDC guidance measures to then make the best decision."

She said it's unclear when the flu restrictions will be lifted.

"It's still flu season, and that is also a threat to the immunocompromised, a threat to the elderly, a threat to pregnant women," Hyson said.

Hyson said regionally the influenza numbers are close to last year, which was considered a bad flu season.

As of Thursday at 2 p.m., there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio. Three people have been tested for COVID-19 and are waiting lab results. Seven people who were previously under investigation for COVID-19 have tested negative.

For Ohio Health Department updates on coronavirus or COVID-19, click here.