Marietta confirms first case of COVID-19

The first person to test positive for COVID-19 in Washington County is a 50-year-old Marietta woman who recently returned from travel to an area with known cases, the Marietta/Belpre City Health Department announced Sunday.

The woman on Sunday was in isolation at her home, the department said, and authorities were attempting to get in touch with anyone she had come in contact with.

Dr. Francis Wadskier, from the infectious disease department at Marietta Memorial Hospital, said the woman had been traveling out-of-state — but not internationally — in an area with known growth in COVID-19 cases. She began having symptoms within 48 hours of her return to Washington County, Wadskier said, and a test sample was taken on Friday.

The results came back Saturday night, with a finding of positive.

“I was involved in the case at the start, and we were able to instruct her to quarantine at home, including her husband,” Wadskier said.

The woman was being monitored, Wadskier said, and on Sunday she still had symptoms but her condition was improving.

Wadskier said the woman’s movements since returning were traced and those she came in contact with were being evaluated. The health department, according to a statement Sunday, “is in the process of notifying individuals with instructions who have been in close contact with this person.”

It is the first of what authorities expect to be numerous cases in the county.

On Wednesday, MMH opened an assessment clinic specifically for COVID-19. The clinic is set up in two suites at the Wayne Street medical campus and includes drive-through sampling to preserve isolation protocols.

“Today is the first day we should start getting daily results from testing,” Dr. Dan Breece, chief medical officer at MMH, said. “We’re on allocation right now for testing materials we receive, but we feel comfortable we have an adequate supply for the short term. Like everyone else, we have requested additional supplies.”

The COVID-19 testing site is taking patients by referral only. Anyone with symptoms or who suspects they might have been in contact with someone who has the disease is urged to call the MMH nurse line at 844-474-6522 or to use the memorialcarenow app.

“We have received a couple of test results since Thursday and we’re continuing to test people at the assessment clinic,” Wadskier said. “If we test people because of high suspicion (of being exposed to or having symptoms of COVID-19), they get instructions to quarantine at home, and we follow up to make sure they are OK. Also, we check them for flu, since the symptoms are similar.”

Gov. Mike DeWine on Sunday issued a “stay-at-home” order for all Ohioans effective at 11:59 p.m. Monday. The 13-page order included detailed exemptions for health care workers, employees of services deemed essential, weddings and funerals and a host of other activities, but emphasized that businesses, such as food stores and drug stores, which remain open are expected to enforce “social distancing” of six feet and provide hand sanitizer.

“This was not designed to be punitive, but this is a health order, not a health suggestion,” he said during his daily briefing.

Playgrounds are to be closed, and child care operations will be closed effective Thursday except for those granted a temporary pandemic child care license by the state. In previous references, DeWine has said those exceptions are to ensure that essential service personnel such as medical professionals and first responders will not be hindered by lack of child care.

Restaurant delivery services and carry-out will still be permitted, he said. The order allows outings for groceries, medicine and other necessities.

Breece said the Marietta hospital is attempting to keep its resources, including personnel, space and supplies, as clear as possible to be prepared for COVID-19 patients while still ensuring that people get the medical care they need.

“We’ve tried to separate sick and well people as much as we can in clinics,” he said. “The governor has issued an order and the Center for Medicare Services has issued guidelines to define essential and non-essential surgeries. We need to adhere to the protection of staff and patients, preserve our capacity and preserve personal protective equipment for increased demand, but we still need to do essential procedures, like those for disease diagnosis, treating anything life-threatening. Procedures that can be postponed for a couple or three weeks, though, we’re looking at every single case.”

Breece said the system is monitoring the situation daily.

“We are prepared as we possibly can be, and I feel like the actions by the federal and state government, especially in Ohio, absolutely has slowed the spread of the disease down, allowed us to get right on board where we should be,” he said. “We’re restricting access to the hospital, tracking the travel of our staff, always watching our patient census and capacity, preserving our personal protective equipment. Every day we’re meeting to look at the numbers, and at this moment we are as prepared as we can be, we’ve been preparing for this since December.”

He also emphasized that care outside the pandemic will continue.

“I want patients to know they will still receive their care … the last thing I want is for patients not to receive the care they need. I don’t want patients being in fear,” he said.

As of 2 p.m. Friday, the state health department coronavirus website showed 351 confirmed cases in the state distributed through 40 counties. The data on Friday did not include Washington County.

The highest number of cases, 125, were reported in Cuyahoga County. Three deaths were reported, one each in Cuyahoga, Lucas and Erie counties, and 83 people were hospitalized with the disease.

COVID-19 in Ohio

Number of cases: 351

Deaths:3 (Cuyahoga, Lucas and Erie counties)

Case locations: 40 counties

Hospitalizations: 83

Source: Ohio Department of Health, Friday, 2 p.m.

Read the order here: https://governor.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/governor/media/news-and-media/ohio-issues-stay-at-home-order-and-new-restrictions-placed-on-day-cares-for-children


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