CINCINNATI (FOX19) - The governors of Ohio and Kentucky addressed concerns Thursday about the spread of coronavirus, also called COVID-19, in their respective states.
Their remarks come in the wake of news from California of the first U.S. case of coronavirus without an obvious source of transmission.
Meanwhile, the CDC has advised the United States should prepare for the possibility of the virus’s spread within communities around the country.
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine was in Cleveland at the Metro Health Campus, joined by doctors and public health officials who have formulated a response plan.
“I want to be clear that the threat of Coronavirus in Ohio and the United States remains low,” DeWine said, “but this could change, and we have to be prepared. I believe it is imperative that we are open with the public and are communicating information in real-time about the Coronavirus to both inform and educate our communities. We will communicate what we know, when we know it.”
DeWine added Ohioans are at a higher risk of getting the flu than they are of getting the coronavirus and that his response plan includes minimizing the threat and spread of both diseases.
There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio, nor are there any people being tested.
Since the outbreak, seven Ohioans have been tested, with all tests coming back negative.
DeWine says he has ordered the following actions by state agencies:
- The DOT will post information from the Department of Health in all state rest areas on handwashing protocols including messages on Ohio Travel TV.
- The Departments of Rehabilitation and Corrections and Youth Services will increase the frequency and use of disinfectant measures in all their state facilities to protect inmates, families, and staff.
- The governor is calling on Ohio college and university leaders to urge every student and faculty member on their campuses who have not yet received a shot to get one at their health clinic immediately.
- The governor is asking our college and university leaders to prohibit college travel to nations where the CDC has recommended no travel, such as China and South Korea.
- The governor is asking colleges and universities to take appropriate action to accommodate students who are studying abroad and may need to come back to the United States.
- The governor is asking the Ohio Department of Aging to continue working with local aging networks to identify the most vulnerable older adults with the highest needs to make sure that plans are in place to meet their needs - whether that is providing additional meals or additional medication or other personal care needs.
- The governor is asking local aging advocates across Ohio to go out into their communities to check on nursing care facilities to ensure that all illness prevention methods are in place.
- The state will also be paying aggressive attention to common areas in state-owned buildings, including significantly increased cleaning frequency of these areas and hand sanitizer stations in common lobbies and hallways.
Updates on coronavirus in Ohio can be found at the state Department of Health website.
Similarly, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said there are no cases of coronavirus in the Bluegrass State, and that only one person has been tested with symptoms so far. Those results reportedly came back negative.
Joined by officials Kentucky Department for Public Health, Beshear echoed Dewine’s sentiments that it is important to be ready and vigilant to ease the fears of Kentucky residents.
“It’s important for the public to know that even though Kentuckians are at low risk for this virus, our state and local health experts have been working hard to ensure the public is educated and that reports of patients that meet criteria for COVID-19 are being properly tested and treated to reduce potential harm,” Beshear said. “The best advice for Kentuckians to follow is not new advice – get your flu shot, stay home if you are not feeling well and practice good hygiene by washing your hands thoroughly.”
Kentucky officials added they’ve developed several resources to support local health departments, clinicians and the general public, including a Kentucky-specific website: kycovid19.ky.gov.
Department of Public Health Commissioner Steven Stack, MD, said federal guidelines emphasize rapid response for monitoring individuals who develop symptoms and are identified as “at risk," adding that the Kentucky DPH is working closely with the CDC.
“We understand that some people are worried about this virus and how it may impact Kentuckians,” he said. “We are carefully monitoring the evolving situation and taking necessary precautions. Kentucky has a strong disease surveillance system in place that includes partnerships with hospital and clinic systems as well as local health departments and we are committed to this mission of protecting the health and safety of all Kentuckians.”
The Kentucky DPH has a process in place to determine whether testing is warranted, including consulting with the CDC. The process is outlined as follows:
- DPH is contacting and monitoring anyone they are aware of who has traveled in the last 14 days from China, the primary country of concern, to assess if they develop any symptoms.
- To reduce potential risk, DPH has asked these travelers to self-isolate, to avoid public gatherings and report their temperatures and any symptoms daily.
- DPH has monitored over 100 people up to this point, and the majority of these travelers have already passed the 14-day monitoring period. All but one have been illness-free, and that person tested negative for COVID-19.
- DPH is reminding the public through all our means of communication and network of local health departments to follow the general respiratory illness and flu prevention tips that are crucial in preventing viral exposure and the spread of germs.