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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) has opened a call center to answer citizens’ questions about the coronavirus (COVID-19).

According to the department, the call center is staffed with licensed nurses and infectious disease experts. These medical professionals will be tasked with answering questions and providing accurate information about the coronavirus, the risk to the public and Ohio’s response to the illness.

The call center will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. You can reach call center staff at 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

Meanwhile, the municipal and county courts here in Northeast Ohio are closely monitoring the coronavirus reports from federal, state and local health experts.

They are actively meeting with the county health officials to learn what steps to take to minimize the risk of spreading infectious diseases throughout the courthouses. Click here to read the full statement from court officials.

As of Friday, the courts are slated to remain open for business as usual. If there are any changes to the courts’ schedules, notices will be posted on their websites (linked below).

While the coronavirus risk to Ohioans currently remains low, ODH says it is important to follow the below-mentioned precautions to prevent the spread of infectious disease:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

ODH is regularly updating information regarding the number of potential coronavirus cases and the results of testing. You can find this and additional information on COVID-19 on ODH’s website.

Dr. Heidi Gullett with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health stopped by the FOX 8 newsroom Friday to answer your questions about the coronavirus. Take a look:

Are there any coronavirus cases in Ohio?

There are currently zero cases in Ohio, however the state does have two people under investigation for the virus. This means they potentially could have been exposed to the virus but do not have it. State officials are monitoring these individuals.

What can we do better to stay healthy and prevent the spread of illness?

Dr. Gullett says to cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow. Immediately throw your issue out afterward and wash your hands.

Do not share cups, beverages or utensils with others. If you are sick, do not cook or prepare food, especially if you are making food for others.

Drink lots of water and maintain a healthy, balanced diet.

Make sure you have a primary care provider who can help you assess your symptoms and develop a treatment plan, if necessary.

Can my local doctor test for the coronavirus?

Ohio’s coronavirus testing kits will arrive in the next few days. The CDC will provide more information on where testing can take place in the near future. Meanwhile, health professionals can still test for the virus in Ohio. The samples will then be sent on to the CDC for examination and confirmation.

My local store ran out of hand sanitizer. Can I make my own?

In the wake of hand sanitizer shortages, recipes for creating your own product have surfaced on social media. Dr. Gullett recommends that you stick to using commercial products that are at least 60% alcohol. However, she reiterates that hand-washing is still the best preventative measure.

Are there medications or a vaccine that will help if I get the coronavirus?

At this time, there are no medications or vaccines that treat COVID-19, but there are medications to treat symptoms. Dr. Gullett says federal health officials are working on a vaccine currently and hope that it will be developed and distributed quickly.

I have a trip planned. Is it safe for me to travel?

If you’re planning travel in the recent days, such as a spring break trip, it is ok to travel, especially since most people will be visiting places that don’t have any confirmed cases of the virus. However, if you are feeling sick you should not get on an airplane, as you could spread other illnesses such as influenza.

Can my pet catch the coronavirus?

There are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in domestic animals. However, existing research suggests that other coronaviruses have originated in animals. While there is nothing suggesting that your pet can get COVID-19, it is important to prepare for your pets’ care in case you do get ill. Click here to learn more about the steps you can take to protect your pets.

Ultimately, Dr. Gullett’s message to the public is to “remember to wash your hands for at least 20 seconds and stay home when you’re sick.” Continue to educate yourself on the virus through reputable sources, such as the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, the Ohio Department of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

FOX 8 will also have all the latest coronavirus information on-air, online and on our FOX 8 News app.


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