LIMA — Two weeks after Gov. Mike DeWine announced the first precautions to stop a statewide coronavirus outbreak in its tracks, COVID-19 has officially been confirmed in the region.
Specific information has been sparse, but the Ohio Department of Health has identified positive COVID-19 cases in residents from Mercer, Hancock, Logan, Shelby and Defiance counties.
Relatedly, at least one Ohioan with the coronavirus had been cared for in Allen County. Late Wednesday, one of two of Lima’s regional hospitals, Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center, released a short statement saying as much.
“Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center has cared for a patient who has tested positive for novel coronavirus COVID-19,” the statement read.
But while a patient suffering from COVID-19 had been inside the county, that doesn’t mean the individual is a resident of Allen County. Allen County Public Health, the county agency tasked with keeping track of local COVID-19 cases, confirmed the fact in a Thursday morning statement.
“Allen County Public Health wants to remind people that while this is not an Allen County resident, it is evidence of the fact that cases of COVID-19 will be on the rise in the coming days and weeks throughout Ohio and the country,” the statement warns.
Requests for more information on the hospital’s case have been referred by the hospital to Allen County Public Health, which has not been unusual. In general, hospitals across the state have shown reluctance in communicating potential patient information in order to protect individuals and their families that may have been exposed to COVID-19.
But while there may be sparse information on who the patient may be, there’s no lack of information on how residents should react.
During DeWine’s daily press conference, state officials have offered hours of information on the coronavirus spread, how the state is responding and what Ohioans should expect in the coming months.
Since DeWine began the daily report, the state has shut down schools for at least three weeks. Restaurants, bars, hair salons, tattoo parlors and a number of businesses where people congregate have since followed suit. Not long after, DeWine’s Sunday night “stay at home” order emphasized the need for “non-essential” employees to self-quarantine.
In the following days, well-traveled thoroughfares have seen a marked decreased in traffic, and the latest data available show that many Ohioans have been following along with the governor’s recommendations.
A recently-released Baldwin-Wallace University poll, conducted in partnership with Ohio Northern University, effectively measured Ohioans’ reactions to state coronavirus precautions from March 17 to 25, and the majority of those polled — four out of five — have supported how DeWine is handling the state’s response.
Unsurprisingly, similar majorities can be found in poll results asking how people feel about the virus’s spread. Roughly 90% of Ohioans polled expressed some concern about the coronavirus, 84.4% expressed some anxiety about the spread of the disease and 68.8% reported that they were worried that someone in their family will catch the disease.
Poll data suggests four out of five Ohio residents have since changed their daily routines as a result. Accordingly, the majority of those polled reported going out less, avoiding physical contact, more frequent hand washing and spending more time at home.
In other words, the latest data estimates that while many are concerned, Ohioans are on board to practice the actions necessary to hamper potential impacts — just when the virus has made a local appearance.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.