MIAMI COUNTY — The Miami County Commissioners held a special meeting with the elected officials of Miami County and Miami County Health Commissioner Dennis Propes to provide updates on the coronavirus, as well as discuss precautions the county is beginning to take in regard to this pandemic.
As of press time Monday, there are 50 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Ohio with 12 counties affected, including Belmont, Butler, Cuyahoga, Franklin, Geauga, Lorain, Lucas, Medina, Stark, Summit, Trumbull, and Tuscarawas, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Cuyahoga County, which was the first county in Ohio to report cases of the coronavirus, has the highest number of cases with 24 people positive for the coronavirus. Of the 50 total confirmed cases of the coronavirus, 14 of those people are hospitalized. There are also approximately 333 people under health supervision.
Propes said there are over 170,000 cases worldwide.
“There are more cases outside of China than there are in China,” Propes said, adding there are also more deaths occurring outside of China, where the virus first originated.
“Italy and Spain are the hot spots,” Propes said.
In regard to testing for the virus, Propes said President Donald Trump spoke about working with corporations to provide drive-through testing, so Propes expects to see an increase to the country’s testing capacity soon.
Commissioner Jack Evans later asked how one currently goes about getting tested. Propes said it is currently the “sickest of the sick” who are getting prioritized at hospitals for testing, and others can go through their physicians, who can order testing from a private laboratory.
“(Miami County) Public Health does not do testing,” Propes said. He said symptoms of the coronavirus include a fever of 100.4 degrees, shortness of breath, and coughing. It is also believed the virus is spreading through respiratory droplets, which is why there is the recommendation that people remain 6 feet apart.
Propes also spoke about Gov. Mike DeWine’s order to close restaurants and bars.
“It poses a very huge burden on a lot of local businesses,” Propes said.
The list also now includes gyms, recreational centers and facilities, indoor water parks, indoor attractions, bowling alleys, and movie theaters. The commissioners’ meeting Monday morning took place before DeWine’s new orders on Monday afternoon.
“There’s already talk of closing the schools for the remainder of the school year,” Propes said. He said schools are struggling to get meals to kids who depend on the school districts for food, with some districts providing food packs to last children a day or a week.
Miami County Operations and Facilities Department Director Chris Johnson said there are three staff members going to each of the buildings to disinfect surfaces, like door handles and knobs.
“The problem becomes the product,” Johnson said. He said if the county cannot restock their cleaning supplies, they’re out.
Johnson added that he put the county on waiting list with a company for “fogging the facilities.” The county has approximately 360,000 square feet of space that would be fogged, which Johnson said would be like a “reset to zero” to completely sanitize the facilities.
“The minute an infected person re-enters that environment, you start back up with the environment being infected,” Johnson said.
Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak also said he has ordered digital, non-contact thermometers to test people’s temperatures before they enter the Miami County Jail and/or Incarceration Facility.
“No one will be entering the jail, including me, if they have a temperature of (100.4) or above,” Duchak said.
The commissioners also suggested implementing those thermometers at the security checkpoints at the Safety Building, along with the one coming to the Miami County Courthouse. They suggested county employees also be tested for their temperatures before entering the building.
Propes said the county will also have to consider changes in its operations, such as having employees rotating who works from home and who comes to the office in order to minimize the number of people present or limiting hours of operation to the public. Currently, county facilities are remaining open to the public.
Commissioner Ted Mercer also suggested suspending all travel and training, as well as all non-essential spending within the county.