On Wednesday, the Pike County General Health District (PCGHD) and Pike County Health Commissioner Matt Brewster provided an update to the community on their Facebook page concerning COVID-19, the work the health district has done throughout the last several months, and the current work being done as cases in the county rise.
“Today, marks the 180th day from our first positive COVID-19 case,” the health district stated. “I would like to thank our staff at the health district along with our board for their dedication and perseverance over the past six months. We have some employees that have literally worked on COVID-19 in some aspect, every day, for the past 180 days. I would also like to thank the community for your support and patience thus far.
“There have been many challenges since March, but I feel like we have done our best to add common sense and fairness when it comes to the ever changing and sometimes hypocritical guidance and orders from ODH (Ohio Department of Health)/Gov. (Mike) DeWine. We have also tried to be as transparent as possible from day one and communicate what was needed without violating the privacy of others. We will continue to give 110% — from COVID-19 to food safety to radiological contamination.”
The health district provided the following “glimpse into our last six months”:
“1. 191 case investigations to date. Each one takes between 30 minutes and one hour to complete. We collect data on symptoms, travel, exposure, and possible contacts. This does not include daily phone calls made to the cases to monitor their illness and determine when their isolation is complete. It does not include phone calls to employers or time spent making and sending work excuses. It does not include the phone calls received by individuals wondering if they were a contact.
“2. 576 contacts monitored to date. This includes notification — which takes about 15 to 30 minutes — and 14 days of monitoring via text or daily phone calls. Contacts are asked to quarantine for 14 days since last exposure and report temperatures and symptoms twice a day.
“3. Delivering thermometers, groceries, and prescriptions so that people can remain in quarantine/isolation. Groceries were paid for by health department employees as we were unable to obtain donations.
“4. Delivering/supplying PPE (personal protective equipment) to partners including all Pike County law enforcement, EMS, and fire departments. We also provided supplies to schools, dental offices, nursing homes, hospices, home health agencies, fair board, Pike County Children Services, and other agencies.
“5. Complaint follow up — we make a phone call or in-person visit to investigate the complaint, provide education, and offer PPE.
“6. Providing daily case updates on social media.
“7. Answering phone calls, emails, and questions on social media regarding the outbreak. Our daily phone calls have increased 10-fold since the beginning of the pandemic.
“8. Daily/weekly conference calls and Zoom meetings trying to keep up to date on the current guidance.
“9. Organized three antibody testing events at the request of our community. We had to schedule each individual and enter billing data for the lab – 325 people tested. PCGHD does not gain anything but information for hosting these events.
“10. Worked with fair board, schools, and other agencies on reopening plans.”
According to the health district, this was accomplished with 11 employees.
The health district also provided information on current spread of COVID-19:
“Our recent rise in cases can be tied to large events, family gatherings, household spread, and then community spread in general,” according to the health district. “We have one outbreak of at least 21 cases linked to one large event. We are still linking secondary and tertiary cases. We also have some cases tied to smaller family gatherings and outings. We are also seeing numerous cases from household spread. This would be where one family member tests positive and then other members in the household are exposed and become positive.
“The good news is that even with the substantial increase in cases, we are not seeing that result in more hospitalizations. Most of our cases have had rather mild symptoms and they have been able to fight off the virus without medical intervention. Each hospitalized case up to this point has had at least one or more comorbidity or pre-existing condition making them high-risk. With that being said, we still do not know the potential long-term effects this virus may have on individuals down the road, if any.”
COVID-19 has many different and varied symptoms. Some of these include fever and chills, muscle and body aches, new loss of taste or smell, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, cough, fatigue, headache, sore throat, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, congestion or runny nose, and others.
The Pike County General Health District stated that some of the symptoms they are seeing in Pike’s cases are a headache that doesn’t improve with medicine, sore throat, dry cough, and loss of taste and smell.
The Pike County General Health District provided the following information on contact tracing:
“I would like to encourage our positive cases and the parents of our positive cases to be honest and transparent during our interview process – especially, when it comes to listing close contacts. The information we use to decide who gets quarantined is only as reliable as the person giving us the information. We understand that no one wants to stay home for 14 days, miss school or work, or a practice or game. But if we are not given accurate information on who should quarantine, we will have people who are possibly infectious going to work, to school, out to eat, to sporting events, etc. This can result in increased spread, more cases, and possible outbreaks – that could have been prevented. Most importantly, this could also result in a high-risk individual becoming infected that might not be able to fight off the virus. Our goal is to only quarantine those who meet the definition of a contact.”
The health district also provided the following information on schools:
“I have seen a lot of comments that the schools should be shut down and people blaming the school for our increase in cases. As stated above, there are several reasons for our current increase in cases, but our schools are not one of them at this time. As most health experts agree for a multitude of reasons, our kids need to be in school and each of our schools have an excellent plan in place to reduce the risk to students and staff.
“We would like to remind everyone to continue to take preventative measures by practicing social distancing (six feet apart), washing your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, wear a facial covering in public settings. Most importantly — if you or your child feel sick, please stay home and seek guidance from a health care professional.”