The current pandemic of SARS CoV 2 related disease, COVID-19, has resulted in 124 confirmed cases among Ohio County residents through July 9, 2020. The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department receives and investigates all resident cases of COVID-19 and since July 2 has seen a significant increase in cases. Investigation to date indicates that cases are associated with resident and nonresident vacation travel, group events including family gatherings, and cases with no other risk factor, which can be an indicator of active community spread.
Besides COVID-19 illness, including illness requiring hospitalization, many individuals have been quarantined due to contact risk, which impacts not only those people and their families, but the businesses and agencies where they work. Finally, misinformation regarding isolation and quarantine is common. Misunderstanding or disregarding isolation or quarantine can cause illness among family members and others.
From July 1 through July 9, 29 cases have been reported in Ohio County. The “re-opening process in West Virginia and the subsequent removal of restrictions has been beneficial to society, however, these easements require ongoing personal efforts from all people and agencies to continue protective strategies including face covering, physical distancing, disinfecting, hand washing, distance learning and working. Judgement based self-exclusion from high risk activities such as staying home when sick, avoiding nonessential travel, and avoiding nonessential gatherings of people not in your household remain as critical protection against the spread of this disease.
Investigation of the recent Ohio County cases shows low adherence to the recommended practices, especially distancing and face covering (which are now required under Executive Order 50-20).
Because persistence of spread of COVID-19 in the current trending fashion will result in significant unnecessary disease, some of which may be severe and can result in death, and because required quarantine of exposed individuals causes a substantial inconvenience and potential loss of income to individuals as well as impacting businesses and employers from absenteeism, Ohio County residents must work together to stop the spread of this disease in our community.
The Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department stresses:
- Use face coverings in the presence of others who are not members of your household, especially indoors, but also outdoors when distancing is not possible.
- Carefully maintain physical distancing of 6 feet from others who are not members of your household at all times possible.
- Avoid nonessential travel. During travel, use all recommended face covering, distancing, disinfecting and other measures to protect yourself.
- Carefully consider your participation in all events to assure your safety.
Businesses and agencies should:
- Review all policies and procedures to assure compliance with current rules and recommendations regarding allowed activities under the Safer at Home rules.
- Provide all necessary Personal Protective Equipment and disinfecting supplies as required. Strictly observe physical distancing and allowed occupancy.
- Require the use of face covering by employees.
- Consider travel restriction policies.
- Consider 14-day quarantine policies on return from high risk travel areas.
- Continue to follow best practices for infection control as found in CDC guidance for your industry at www.cdc.gov.
Health care providers and agencies should:
- Review COVID-19 testing protocols and procedures to assure appropriate testing for with a goal of maximum capacity with minimal barriers to access.
- Be alert to the potential for increased caseload in outpatient and inpatient settings.
- Assure Personal Protective Equipment usage and supplies.
- Strictly observe all infection control protocols and procedures to protect patients and essential personnel.
- Report all cases of COVID-19 disease as soon as possible. As a category 1 disease under the reportedly disease rule it is immediately reportable to the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department.