The Highland County Health Department hosted a Facebook Live town hall on Thursday to answer community members’ questions and address myths circulated through social media platforms about COVID-19.
Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner, Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District Chief David Manning, Highland County Emergency Management Director David Bushelman, and Highland County Health Department Public Information Officer Branden Jackman answered questions asked in the Facebook comments for approximately an hour on Thursday afternoon.
Below are some of the officials’ responses to community questions. The full video can be found on the Highland County Health Department’s Facebook page.
* When asked what agencies are testing patients for COVID-19, Warner said, “That’s a complicated question. Right now there are some health care providers that can do testing on their own; other tests are happening at the hospitals. The complication with testing — and this is not just here in Highland County but nationwide — is that there aren’t enough materials to actually run the tests and take the samples.”
* Warner stressed that, at this time, people are only able to be tested for COVID-19 with a doctor’s order.
* Warner said the Ohio Department of Health has modified testing criteria in an attempt to provide more flexibility for local doctors. However, due to the fact that testing resources are so limited at this time, those who are the sickest, have conditions that put them at higher risk, or work at long-term care facilities like nursing homes as well as symptomatic first responders and health care workers are the main demographics that are currently being tested.
* According to Warner, testing at the Ohio Department of Health’s lab typically takes around 24 to 48 hours. Private labs may take around seven to 10 days to process tests.
*Bushelman said, “The strategic national stockpile [of personal protective equipment] has been released. We got our first shipment [last week], and we’re supposed to get another shipment tomorrow. Supplies have been very limited. This is a problem from coast to coast in the U.S. PPE is going to be a problem on down the road as we go.” According to Bushelman, the CDC divides the stockpile of masks and other supplies based on population.
* Warner said the health department is asking that employees who are sent home due to illness should stay home for a minimum of seven days. After they’ve gone at least 72 hours without symptoms and they haven’t used any medications that may manage or alleviate symptoms, they can return to work. Manning added that health workers who return to work afterward must wear personal protective equipment like masks.
* The incubation period for COVID-19 is between two and 14 days, Warner said, and the CDC has noted cases where those who weren’t showing symptoms or were showing minor symptoms at the time transmitted the virus to other people. He stressed that is why social distancing is so important at this time.
* According to Warner, global health officials are getting close to being able to perform tests to see if someone has already had COVID-19, though at this time local officials are still preparing for a surge in new COVID-19 cases.
* Warner said officials are unsure of how immunity to COVID-19 will develop once someone has already had the virus.
* Warner said that the World Health Organization and CDC say they don’t expect COVID-19 to be a mosquito-borne disease.
* According to Warner, neither the CDC nor the World Health Organization have recognized at this point a correlation between blood types and risk or the use of anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen and worsened condition. However, the WHO advises that those who are sick to avoid contact with pets.
* “There are still ways to interact with our loved ones who are in high-risk groups,” Warner said, “but right now, we need to focus on protecting those high-risk groups as best as we can. One of the best ways to do that is to keep that social distancing.”
* “There’s a lot of discussion right now as to what’s an essential business or a nonessential business,” Warner said. “The first step, if someone is a business owner, is to look at the director’s orders.” Warner added that the health department has been working with business owners to determine where they fit the best.
* “Our campgrounds, some of the restrooms and other facilities at the campgrounds themselves are closed,” Warner said. “As far as I understand, the lakes and trails are open, so we encourage people to go out and enjoy our park system.”
For more information about COVID-19 in the U.S., including symptoms, visit the Ohio Department of Health at coronavirus.ohio.gov, or the CDC at www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. If you believe you may have the virus and you can’t manage your symptoms, call your doctor or an emergency room before going.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.