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.
CINCINNATI - Hamilton County's first two reported COVID-19 deaths were men in their 50s and 60s with underlying health conditions, the county health department announced Wednesday evening.
Both men contracted COVID-19 through unknown sources, according to a release. No other details about them were made public.
“On behalf of all of Hamilton County, we express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of the patients who died,” said interim Hamilton County health commissioner Greg Kesterman. “We are heartbroken and we extend our sympathies and support to all in Hamilton County and Ohio who are battling this illness. We will not release any identifiable information about the patients to respect privacy.
“We are reaching out to all known contacts of COVID-19 cases to make sure we help prevent the spread of this disease,” Kesterman added. “These deaths are tragic and we’re doing everything in our power to flatten the curve and prevent as many of these unfortunate outcomes as we can.”
Before Wednesday's announcement, there were 154 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Hamilton County and 28 hospitalizations, according to the Ohio COVID-19 dashboard, which tracks cases by county and statewide. The number recovering was 22, according to Hamilton County Public Health.
There was just one previously reported death in Southwest Ohio - in Brown County.
Eleven other Tri-State COVID-19 deaths have been reported - three in Northern Kentucky (one each in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties) and eight in Southeast Indiana (six in Franklin County, one each in Dearborn and Ripley counties).
The Hamilton County Public Health release reminded everyone to continue to follow standard precautions to prevent the spread.
“The most important thing we can do right now is stay at home,” Kesterman said. “Staying at home and social distancing if you must go out are already having an effect on flattening the curve.”
Hamilton County Public Health also advises that you:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.