CLEVEVLAND (WJW)– Ohio health officials addressed growing fears of a coronavirus outbreak on Thursday. Gov. Mike DeWine spoke alongside Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton and Cuyahoga County Health Commissioner Terry Allan during a news conference.
DeWine said the threat of coronavirus in Ohio remains low and there are no confirmed cases in the state.
“All Ohioans must have a sense of urgency about this emerging health threat,” DeWine said. “It’s imperative that we be open with the public and that we communicate information in real time about the coronavirus to to both inform and educate.”
Both DeWine and Acton encouraged employers and schools to be flexible with their sick policies. They emphasized taking simple measures like hand washing and staying at home when you’re ill. Acton added the virus is easily killed by routine cleaning products. Those efforts can dramatically decrease the spread of viruses based on studies of H1N1, according to Acton.
Acton, who just returned from Washington D.C. where she met with other state and federal health officials, said the state of Ohio is taking an aggressive and conservative approach to prepare.
“Coronavirus looks very much like the flu. What we now know, and we learn more hour by hour, is that it’s very contagious. It’s particularly catchy,” Acton said. “It’s a little more dangerous than the flu, but it’s not as dangerous as things we’ve seen in the past, like you’ve dealt with here like Ebolahere, SARS or MERS.”
She said symptoms include fever, cough and body aches, and some people will get it without ever knowing. Those who are elderly are more susceptible, just like with the flu.
More than 200 travelers have returned to the Ohio and agreed to self-quarantine. Acton emphasized these people do not have the disease.
Acton said if you are interested in preparing in case you need to quarantine, you should have cold and flu medications, a 14-day supply of your regular prescription medications and food. If you have pets, make sure you have food for them as well. She advised to consider how you will take care of children, parents and grandparents if they become ill.
“There is so much fear. This disease is a virus. It doesn’t discriminate. It started in China, but viruses doesn’t care who you are,” Acton said. “People are sick and for those of us who aren’t sick, we can help.” She said faith-based groups can assist by leaving meals for those who are sick outside their homes.
As always, Acton said to get your flu shot because you are still more likely to get the flu than coronavirus. It also will cut down on the number of people going to the hospital if Ohio is faced with an increase of coronavirus patients.
“In Ohio, we currently remain very low risk. But as you see around the world, that can change and we will definitely keep you informed,” Acton said.
Coronavirus, also called COVID-19, is a respiratory disease first detected in Wuhan City, China in December. The CDC said cases among travelers have been confirmed in the United States with many of the patients coming from the Diamond Princess cruise ship.