BATAVIA, OH – Clermont County Public Health, following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) are urging citizens to prepare for the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 to begin spreading throughout the community in the United States. While the current risk of getting sick with the virus remains low, it is never too early to prepare.
“Preventing disease outbreaks is what we plan and prepare for on a routine basis,” said Health Commissioner Julianne Nesbit. “Our emergency preparedness team has been meeting on a regular basis since the end of January to plan and prepare for a potential outbreak of the virus in our community. We have been in regular contact with the Ohio Department of Health for guidance and to get the most accurate and up to date information.”
ODH has declared COVID-19 a Class-A reportable disease. That means if a person has or is thought to have the coronavirus, the hospital or health care facility treating the patient must tell the local health department immediately.
“If we are notified of a possible COVID-19 case, we would immediately begin a disease investigation just like other contagious diseases that we track,” said Nesbit. The type of investigation can vary depending on the type of disease.
A disease investigation can involve public health nurses contacting the patient and their close contacts, once a positive test is confirmed. This helps to limit the spread of the disease.
In 2019, Clermont County Public Health had more than 1600 communicable disease reports.
Along with other health departments, CCPH routinely conducts exercises that test how they would respond to a public health emergency. These exercises are good training for staff members. They also allow CCPH to see what parts of their plans can be improved when a real emergency occurs.
“Our experience with the H1N1 flu outbreak in 2009-1010, Ebola in 2015, and most recently the hepatitis A outbreak in 2018-2019 have helped us stay prepared for another potential disease outbreak,” said Nesbit.
While the coronavirus is not widespread in the United States, and there are no confirmed cases in Ohio, it’s always a good idea to stay prepared. Here are a few things you can do:
The flu is a bigger public health threat currently than COVID-19. Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 can be similar to flu symptoms. Anyone who has not had a flu shot should get one. Flu season in Ohio typically runs through April.