During Thursday’s weekly Facebook Live news conference, Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner and Highland County Emergency Operations Center Public Information Officer Branden Jackman updated viewers on the latest business reopening dates and the current COVID-19 status in the county.
As of Thursday, Warner said that Highland County has had 17 total cases of the new coronavirus, with 14 being lab-confirmed and three probable.
Of those 17, he said that 12 had recovered and one was deceased, with four patients currently sick with the virus.
While there is no one hospitalized at present, five had previously been in the hospital and Warner said that his office was currently monitoring 14 others that had been quarantined with symptoms.
With an estimated 95 percent of businesses in the state having now reopened, Warner said that indoor dining and campgrounds opened Thursday, along with gyms and fitness centers, which were given permission to reopen under a court order.
Upcoming reopening dates are horse racing with no spectators on Friday; non-contact and limited contact sports leagues, public health department licensed public swimming pools and BMV’s on Tuesday, May 26; and day camps and childcare facilities on Sunday, May 31.
“Libraries were not specifically closed by any state orders,” Warner said when a viewer asked when libraries could reopen. “They decided to close on their own, and the local Highland County libraries are working through some processes as to what they’re going to do when they open back up.”
Another viewer posed the question of graduation parties in the current season of virtual commencements for high school seniors.
During his daily update Thursday afternoon, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that wedding receptions could take place beginning Monday, June 1, with some restrictions.
Lt. Gov. Jon Husted said banquet halls and wedding receptions could have up to 300 people without congregating, and distancing between tables similar to what is in place for restaurants.
While not able to give a definitive answer in light of Gov. DeWine’s announcement, Warner advised that people should consider things from a risk perspective and to “think things through” for the safety of others.
“The stay safe order is in effect until May 29,” Warner said. “So we’re going to stick with the 10-person public gathering rule until we hear otherwise.”
Other subjects discussed Thursday included:
• Can a person catch COVID-19 again? Warner said the short answer was that physicians don’t know for sure and that they are still learning how the virus behaves. He said that one doctor who specialized in infectious diseases said that because COVID-19 tended to generate a significant level of illness, “You’re liable to have a greater amount of antibodies that stick around in your body longer.” He added that the other four strains of coronavirus that cause colds or the flu aren’t as severe and therefore don’t condition the body to generate as large an antibody count, which is why they can be caught multiple times.
• Revocation of parts of the stay-at-home order. Two sections of the order were rescinded recently, one of which was changed to only a recommendation to remain home at the place of residence, and the other was a removal of the directive at prohibited travel that ordered a person who left the state to quarantine upon return for 14 days. Persons with a positive COVID-19 test are still prohibited from entering the state unless seeking medical treatment.
• Antibody testing. “Locally, we have some things in the works as far as antibody testing goes,” Warner said. “I can’t get into a whole lot of details since they’re still in the planning stages, but we’re working on some opportunities to get local antibody testing here in Highland County.”
• Reconvening of schools in the fall. He said that other health commissioners in southwest Ohio are involved in planning to not only prevent the spread of the virus, but to also give guidance to the schools so “that they can do what they need to do.”
• Using Hydroxychlorquine as a preventative treatment. While initial studies of the drug early on led to optimism that it could be effective in treating or preventing COVID-19, Warner said that subsequent investigations were casting doubt on its effectiveness as an anti-viral tool. He added that he wasn’t aware of any health care providers who recommended the 65-year-old antimalarial drug in the treatment of COVID-19.
The next Facebook Live weekly update will be Thursday, May 28 at 12:30 p.m.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.