State and local health departments offering COVID-19 updates

Press Staff Writer

        The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has started a new process for publicly sharing updates on Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
        The department is now posting numbers of any confirmed COVID-19 cases and Persons Under Investigation (PUIs) in Ohio on the ODH website by 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Visit for more details.
        As PUIs are resolved as either positive or negative, these also will be reported on the website following the same posting schedule. If there happens to be a confirmed case, ODH will update the local health department and the general public to provide guidance as appropriate regardless of the posting schedule.
        “We want to be as transparent as possible when it comes to giving the latest information about COVID-19,” said ODH Director Amy Acton, MD, MPH. “Ohio stands prepared, and we have taken a very aggressive approach to make sure we are ready if a case does happen in Ohio.”
        Ohioans in general remain at low risk, and there have been no confirmed cases in the state as of press time.
        There are currently 212 people in Ohio who have returned to the U.S. after having been in China within the past 14 days. These numbers are a rough estimate and not to be considered an exhaustive count of all travelers in Ohio. The numbers will fluctuate depending on the investigation. None of these travelers fit the criteria to be considered a (PUI) for possible COVID-19, none are showing symptoms and will not undergo laboratory testing unless those criteria are met.
        Local health districts and ODH are committed to monitoring and promoting the public health and welfare, Dr. Acton said. As local health districts monitor situations of infectious disease in the community, information will be shared as necessary to protect the public while also considering the privacy rights of any ill individuals.
        • Wood County Health Department has been preparing since early January to respond should the illness begin impacting our area, according to Alex Aspacher, Community Outreach Coordinator.
        The health department has a public health emergency preparedness team that includes an infectious disease expert, an emergency response planner, communication specialists and other public health officials who are trained and ready to respond. Wood County Health Department is also the regional public health coordinator for 18 counties in Northwest Ohio.
        Over the last several months, the health department has coordinated with the Ohio Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Activities have included monitoring travelers returning from areas affected by COVID-19, and sharing information with partners such as health care providers, higher education, K-12 schools and local businesses, Aspacher said.
        The most recent local updates will be posted to the health department’s social media pages on Facebook and Twitter, @WCHDOhio. Contact the health department with questions by calling 419-352-8402.
        Any local agencies or organizations interested in meeting to discuss and plan for possible COVID-19 impact should contact Aspacher at
        • The Lucas County Health Department is also offering information on COVID-19 on its website,, and has opened an informational hotline at 419-213-4161 specifically for any Coronavirus concerns.
        • In an effort to provide updated information and resources to the community, Sandusky County Public Health has also updated its website to offer updated information on COVID-19. Visit for more info.
        Taking precautions
        Because both influenza and coronavirus are transmitted by close contact between people and respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, people can take everyday actions to prevent the spread of illnesses.
        • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
        • Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes.
        •  Cover coughs/sneezes with your arm or a tissue.
        • Avoid exposure to others who are sick, and stay home if you are ill.
        •  Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
        • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
        The CDC does not recommend the routine use of face masks by healthy members of the general public to prevent respiratory illness and is not recommending their use at this time.
        Travelers should be aware that this international outbreak could affect their plans. Areas with risk of community spread of coronavirus currently include China, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand. For more information, visit CDC’s Travelers’ Health page at


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