Wood County coronavirus cases may peak in May and there may not be a local surge, according to the health commissioner.
“We’re truly just holding. We’re preparing for a surge in patients and maybe that surge doesn’t come,” Ben Batey said in a Tuesday teleconference update to Wood County officials.
The next couple of weeks will tell a lot in Wood County, Batey said in a follow-up interview.
“When I say surge, it’s hitting a point where there’s such an increase in cases we can’t keep up,” he said. “If everybody does a great job with social distancing and controlling the spread, that surge may never come.”
Cases continue to rise in Wood County, with four to five getting confirmed per day, up from two to three per day last week.
Batey said that Wood County Hospital, which is treating three COVID-19 patients, has plenty of capacity.
“We’re on top of it in Wood County,” he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Wood County had 38 cases with 21 hospitalizations. There have been zero deaths. The age range is 20-96. The number includes 16 males and 22 females. The median age is 59.
In Ohio, there are 4,782 cases with 1,354 hospitalizations. There have been 167 deaths. The age range is younger than 1 to 101. The median age is 54.
Batey was asked if the health department could break down confirmed cases by zip code to show people where they are located.
The number of Wood County cases is still low, he said. Some zip codes in Wood County have a fairly small number of people and if there is one case, it could be easy to identify the person.
“There’s still a confidentiality issue around this,” Batey said.
If someone is showing symptoms of coronavirus, such as fever, dry cough and shortness of breath, he or she should self-quarantine for two weeks, he said.
“We’re still in the category if you have an individual who is exposed to somebody who has COVID-19 … we still want them to quarantine for 14 days.
“The other factor is we want them to stay home 72 hours or three days after all the symptoms have resolved,” Batey said. “We want you back to feeling perfectly fine for three whole days before you return back to work.”
Wood County is limiting testing to those who are seriously ill and who are health care workers.
“In a perfect world, we would test individually and actually do the test twice when they recover, and we would want both tests to come back negative,” Batey said. “We just can’t keep people from work forever.”
Anyone with concerns about symptoms or returning to work should call the health department, Batey said.
The main message is to probably stay away from work or others longer than you think, he said.
“It’s not an and/or thing, it’s an ‘and you need both,’” Batey said.
He urged everyone to continue social distancing and to stay home, per the state order, until May 1.
“I think we’ve been doing a good job up to this point,” he said. “We continue to get the message out there of social distancing because it is still working.”
Commissioner Ted Bowlus, who is a doctor, agreed.
“Don’t get apathetic about this social distance,” Bowlus said. “We have to warn our people to continue things.”
Batey said the health department has had a few calls about gatherings, but he wholeheartedly recommended getting outside.
“We still have to allow some of these outdoor activities so people can get out of the house and recharge mentally,” he said.
Stores this week will be limiting people inside and placing markers in the aisle to direct traffic and keep people at least 6 feet apart, Batey said.
“What we’re doing in Wood County is working. As hard as it is to do that, it is working. These next couple weeks are going to be critical.”
Jeff Klein, director of the Wood County Emergency Management Agency, said that local personal protective equipment should be registered with the department.
“One of the things that we’re really doing is tracking these things so in three to four weeks, we don’t run out of the stuff,” Klein said. “We’re not going to take anything away from anybody, just keep up on it.”
Ohio Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, R-Perrysburg, said he continues to receive questions about unemployment benefits and difficulties reaching the state office.
He said that office is in the process of hiring 120 new call takers. Benefits will be back-dated to the first date of eligibility, Ghanbari said.