It was mostly a question-and-answer session Thursday when the Highland County Health Department hosted the fourth in a series of weekly Facebook Live sessions pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner and Highland County Emergency Operations Center Public Information Officer Branden Jackman, co-hosts of the session, said they could not answer all the questions because they were still seeking answers themselves.
“There’s a lot of this we’re just not going to know until we get more information from Gov. DeWine and Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton,” Jackman said.
One person asked if older members of the community were safe to go shopping if they wear a mask, gloves and take all the precautions.
Warner did not directly answer the question, but said that maybe younger family members or neighbors could help by picking up groceries for those more susceptible to the virus like older members of the community or those with underlying health issues.
“As individual members of the community we have a chance to protect the high-risk members of our community,” he said.
The health commissioner also said that, at least in his non-medical opinion, there is no evidence that flu shots protect against COVID-19.
Jackman said he does not generally recommend the use of gloves by the general public to protect against the virus because they have to be changed too often to be practical.
Another person asked why so much emphasis is being placed on COVID-19 when the flu seems to take as many lives?
Warner said that question is asked often. He said that COVID-19 is much more easy to catch than the flu and that everyone is susceptible.
“We’re on pace for COVID-19 to have an impact on the U.S. that is much more significant than flu season,” Warner said.
Another person wanted to know if people will be required to wear masks when things start reopening.
Warner said local officials are still struggling to obtain enough masks. He said he assumed the masks required of local residents would be made from cloth, that several local residents are making them, and that the health department is exploring how it can help with distribution of those masks.
Another person asked if nursing home employees and residents are being tested for the virus. Warner said it is essential to test those people, but that a lack of test kits, plus the time it takes to receive results, has hindered that task.
“We’re not at the point in Ohio yet where we can say, ‘If you want get tested, come and get tested,’” Warner said. “We hope to be there soon, but we’re not there yet.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Warner said Highland County had 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19. He said six of the 10 people had recovered and one was still in the hospital. He said that of the four active cases, two were lab-confirmed, while the other two were possible cases.
Warner said that while businesses and activities were shut down quick when authorities first began to take action against the virus, it will likely be slower as things begin to reopen. He said Ohio first limited gatherings to 100 people, then 50, then 10, then told residents to stay home. He said he does not know if the same steps will be followed as things reopen. He said local officials are still waiting to hear from the governor on that issue, but added that businesses and activities in smaller communities to may reopen faster than they do in larger communities.
One person asked how to get tested if someone believes they have COVID-19 symptoms. Warner said the first step is to contact your doctor. He that for the time being, a person has to be hospitalized or meet certain criteria to be tested for the virus.
“Please, if you feel like to have symptoms, by all means call 9-1-1. That’s what we’re there for,” Jackman said. “We can’t stress enough — if you need help, please call.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.