Health Department explains COVID-19 reporting procedure

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(Posted May 15, 2020)

Madison County Public Health released the following information this week.


At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, public health recognized the need to report case numbers to keep Ohioans informed. Providing summary data about infectious diseases is something public health has always done.

During this pandemic, the demand for information has increased significantly. We are reporting more details about this virus at a greater frequency as compared to other illnesses that we normally track in our community. The Ohio Department of Health and Madison County Public Health (MCPH) continue to balance reporting data with protecting patient information.

MCPH reports the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths of COVID-19 in the county. In addition, we report the date that cases began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19. This information is updated daily at covid.madisonph.org. To protect the privacy of all individuals, MCPH does not release any identifiable data, including geographic locations.

COVID-19 cases are reported by county of residence. This is an important distinction to keep in mind for businesses, prisons and nursing homes. A business located in Madison County may have a cluster of COVID-19 cases; however, if all cases reside in a neighboring county, they are not counted in the Madison County total. Similarly, prison or nursing home staff who are positive for COVID-19 are counted by their county of residence. Inmates are considered residents of the county in which the prison is located. The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and Long-Term Care Facility data can be found at coronavirus.ohio.gov.

Health Commissioner Chris Cook notes that knowing where a positive case lives does not provide information to help people make better decisions. If you know that someone in your township has COVID-19, all you know is where that person is isolating and getting better. It doesn’t tell you anything about where they were exposed to the virus. In some of the smaller townships and villages, announcing one case in the area could be extremely identifiable, and we want every county resident to trust that we take their privacy seriously.

There is no consistent definition of a recovered case of COVID-19 across the healthcare profession. COVID-19 affects everyone differently, including length of illness and symptoms. We learn more about the virus every day. There is evidence that some people can experience symptoms, feel better, and then get sick again with COVID-19 symptoms. Until the healthcare profession has a standardized definition of “recovered,” MCPH will not report this number. We want to remain the county’s trusted source of accurate information.

Get local data at covid.madisonph.org and on social media (@madisoncountyPH). Connect with the health department at (740) 852-3065 or at info@madisonpublichealth.org.

If you are concerned about your mental health, call the COVID CareLine at 1-800-720-9616 to talk to with a licensed mental health professional. Hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

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