(Posted April 8, 2020)
The following coronavirus (COVID-19) update for Madison County was released by Madison County Public Health on April 7.
Ohio put strict stay-at-home orders in place very early in the COVID-19 outbreak. In fact, what we have done in Ohio is becoming a model for other states and even other countries. The case counts are showing that Ohioans are doing a good job with social distancing. However, we know we are a long way from the end of the battle.
“Eventually we will see the number of new cases holding steady,” said Madison County Health Commissioner Chris Cook. “When this happens we shouldn’t look at it as an ‘all clear’ sign. Instead, it’s a sign that everything we are doing is working, and we shouldn’t let up.”
It is important to understand Ohio’s Stay at Home order that is in place through May 1, 2020. The Stay at Home order requires people to remain in their homes unless they have an essential job or are doing an essential task like going to the grocery store or walking a pet. You can shop for groceries, receive medical care for both you and your pets, exercise outdoors (but not with anyone outside of your household), and provide required care for others (like elderly family members or neighbors). When performing these essential activities, always use social distancing, stay at least six feet from others, and wash your hands frequently.
The Stay at Home order prohibits all mass gatherings of more than 10 people, unless otherwise exempted. This is in accordance with President Trump’s guidelines issued on March 16, 2020. Mass gatherings are considered to be any event involving more than 10 people in a single room or space at the same time, whether indoor or outdoor. Local law enforcement has the ability to issue a citation to anyone who is deliberately disobeying the order.
This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that up to 25 percent of people with COVID-19 may be asymptomatic. This means that nearly one in four people infected with the coronavirus may not show symptoms. Social distancing slows the spread of the virus and keeps people who may have the virus (and do not know they have it) from transmitting it to others. The CDC now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (like grocery stores and pharmacies), especially in counties like Madison where there are positive cases. Surgical masks and N-95 respirators are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders.
We are now entering the spring season which brings some concerns. With warmer weather, many people are tempted to gather in groups for picnics, cookouts, bonfires, and sports. The Stay at Home orders strictly prohibit those things from happening.
As we enter Easter weekend, please do not visit in groups or hold Easter egg hunts with anyone outside of your household. If we don’t practice social distancing with extended family, we put others at risk, especially our older family members or those with existing health conditions. Cook cautions the county about a spike following Easter weekend.
“Our behavior is the biggest predictor in how fast we can return to something that feels normal,” he said. “If we start getting back together with friends and family this weekend, we will have a significant increase in cases in the next two weeks. It’s not time to get back to normal yet.”
Mild cases of COVID-19 can look at lot like allergies. People with any signs of illness at all should stay home for at least 14 days. If symptoms last longer than 14 days, stay home at least one week after symptoms stop. So, is it allergies or COVID-19? Until rapid testing becomes more available, it is hard to distinguish the difference. Please do your part and stay home as much as possible especially if you have any symptoms at all.
We know this is an overwhelming time for many. Take care of your mental health. Call, FaceTime, video chat, or write a letter to your loved ones. Go outside and enjoy the weather. If you are concerned about your mental health, please call the Disaster Distress Hotline at 1-800-985-5990 or text the Ohio Crisis Line at 741 741. We are all in this together!
Madison County Public Health will continue to provide accurate local data on our website at covid.madisonph.org and on social media (@madisoncountyPH). If you have questions about COVID-19 you can contact Madison County Public Health at 740-852-3065 or at email@example.com. You may also call ODH COVID-19 Hotline for questions at 1-833-4ASK-ODH.