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'We will get through this': City, county, hospital officials address COVID-19 preparedness

Posted at 1:16 PM, Mar 12, 2020

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CINCINNATI — Mayor John Cranley, Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus and several medical professionals held a news conference Thursday to discuss how city hospitals are preparing for COVID-19.

“We will get through this,” Cranley said at Thursday's press conference. “But getting through this means doing things differently.”

CEOs and expert physicians from UC Health, TriHealth, Mercy Health, Christ Hospital and Cincinnati Children's made recommendations on how people should navigate healthcare and prevent the spread of disease.

At this time, there are no confirmed cases in Greater Cincinnati.

"All tests that have come back have come back negative," said Dustin Calhoun of UC Health's Emergency Medicine department.

Among their suggestions are to practice frequent hand-washing and social distancing measures that have been stressed by medical experts nationwide in recent weeks.

Mercy Health's David Fikse also announced that the health system's ambulatory sites will soon be able to do testing for COVID-19.

As hospitals work to set up testing centers, Calhoun cautioned against getting tested unless patients are showing symptoms.

Instead, officials urge those concerned about possible virus symptoms, like runny nose, sore throat, cough, fever and difficulty breathing, call their primary care physician for more information on testing.

Thomas Lamarre, Christ Network's Infectious Disease department said preparations for the regional pandemic have been ongoing, including assessing the number of available beds in all regional medical systems and ventilators needed daily.

Cranley added that city leaders would follow Governor Mike DeWine's lead on canceling events in Cincinnati, including worship events over the weekend.

"We will be gathering with faith leaders to talk about service this weekend," he said. "We’ll have a lot more to update tomorrow on worship this weekend."

Cranley has not implemented a curfew at this time. Driehaus said the county, which declared a state of emergency earlier on Thursday, aims to spread awareness to prevent COVID-19's spread.

The news conference came one day after Cranley declared a state of emergency for Cincinnati in an effort to control the spread of the virus.