There was little doubt that coronavirus would eventually surface in Ohio. The first three confirmed cases in the state involve individuals in their 50s from Cuyahoga County – a married couple returning from a cruise and a man attending a conference in Washington, D.C.
The highly contagious virus has been traveling the world for months, with some individuals becoming ill and others succumbing to COVID-19, a disease caused by a member of the coronavirus family. Worldwide there are about 118,000 cases of COVID-19 and 4,200 deaths this season so far. In the U.S., there have been about 1,000 cases with 32 deaths, as of earlier this week. The most vulnerable are people with chronic medical conditions and individuals over the age of 60. But even the young can be carriers and not realize it.
Though the number of cases here seems low, proper management of the highly infectious disease is essential to preventing an uncontrollable outbreak that could overwhelm our medical care system.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has been leading the charge along with Dr. Amy Acton, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, sharing information with residents statewide and offering sound advice on what needs to be done to contain a spread.
State medical providers began testing people for the virus last week after receiving testing kits from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One of the first steps to contain the virus has been keeping people in place. Ohio agencies, for example, have canceled statewide meetings. Large corporations and hospital systems have canceled all international and domestic travel for their employees. Rallies, like those planned for Democratic presidential candidates Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, have been called off. Following Gov. DeWine’s directive, the Ohio High School Athletic Association likely will only allow immediate family members at indoor tournament games, putting a damper on one of the most exciting times of the year for sports. But we see this as a necessary step.
Universities are switching out face-to-face classes for online instruction to keep exposure at a minimum.
School district officials around the state are meeting to come up with plans to teach classes online should the need arise.
We agree that keeping people at home away from crowds is important, but why?
Viruses can spread in large crowds. Fewer crowds, fewer exposures. Epidemiologists call it flattening the curve. It means that social distancing, whether it is in Ohio, Italy or South Korea, will not prevent illness, but will slow it down and perhaps reduce the number of people who contract the disease.
So, while it may be disappointing that you cannot go to the tournament game or hop a plane to Europe, cautious measures will help to prevent the spread of this virus.
It is the responsibility of every individual to practice safe measures, such as properly washing your hands, covering your mouth when coughing and your nose while sneezing. Stay home if you have a fever, body aches, cough and shortness of breath – the main symptoms of COVID-19. There is no cure, but scientists are developing a vaccine.
Be smart. These measures are a small price to pay for keeping this disease in check.