Meigs County Responds to COVID-19, What You Need to Know

From left, Brody Davis, Courtney Midkiff (standing) and Leanne Cunningham talk about response and planning from the Meigs County Health Department on COVID-19. Photo by Carrie Rose.

Meigs County Responds to COVID-19, What You Need to Know

POMEROY, Ohio – The Meigs County Health Department held a press conference Thursday afternoon in light of recent developments with the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and announcements from Governor Mike DeWine.

Courtney Midkiff, administrator/registrar, along with Leanne Cunningham, director of nursing, and Brody Davis public health emergency response coordinator, of the Meigs County Health Department met to talk about Meigs County’s response to the unfolding events around COVID-19. Midkiff said this was not about panic, but providing correct information so that Meigs Countians can respond and prepare appropriately. “This is not a hoax. This is reality. This is human beings taking care of human beings,” she said.

Midkiff said those that are at greatest risk of COVID-19 are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. She said response to the pandemic for Meigs County must be kept in context to taking care of some of our most vulnerable citizens. Meigs County has an older population, which means taking precautions to help stop/slow the spread of COVID-19 are important.

The preventative recommendations from the Meigs County Health Department are:

  • Wash your hands.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • If you are sick, do not go out in public.
  • Social Distancing – Keep a distance from people, don’t have have physical contact like shaking hands, hugging.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when sneezing/blowing your nose and throw used tissues away.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze or cough into your upper sleeve – not your hands.
  • Avoid large gatherings.

As of 2:30 p.m. on March 12, Dr. Amy Acton with the Ohio Department of Health signed an executive order limiting gatherings of 100 and over. This led to the Meigs County Chamber and Tourism canceling an event planned for March 13. In a statement from the chamber, “We appreciate your support, donations and time that so many have put into this, but we feel this is the most responsible decision at this time.”

It is in the context of being responsible and contemplative of the county’s population that is vulnerable to COVID-19 that Midkiff said residents need to keep in mind.

“80 percent of the people that are exposed won’t experience symptoms, but they will be contagious,” Midkiff said.

As of 4 p.m. on March 12, 2020 Meigs County had no person the health department is aware of even being suspected of having COVID-19 in the county.

“We are still encouraging people to get out and vote, to do their patriotic duty. Just use common sense precautions,” Midkiff said.

She stressed that hand washing is very important anyway, but can greatly help when it comes to viruses such as COVID-19. “Do not panic, but use precaution,” she said adding that the Meigs County Health Department will continue to work for the people of Meigs County to “Preserve, promote and protect the health and well-being of Meigs County.”

The health department has been in meetings and conversation with the schools in the county along with Meigs EMA, Meigs EMS, Meigs County Commissioners, Holzer Health Systems, and other community stakeholders to be as prepared and educated on developing events as possible. The Meigs County Board of Health has voted to grant authority to Marc Barr, Health Commissioner, to quarantine individuals if necessary. Midkiff said that has not been necessary in the county, but they are prepared if it is. Midkiff stressed that residents should look to reliable resources for information including the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Ohio Department of Health and the Meigs County Health Department’s Facebook page, Twitter, and website meigs-health.com and local news sources such as the Meigs Independent Press for the latest information.

As of 4 p.m. on March 12, 2020 in Ohio there were 5 cases of confirmed COVID-19 (none in Meigs County.) There were 52 persons under investigation and 30 negative persons under investigation. There were 333 cumulative health supervision cases with many of those being people who had returned from traveling abroad. None of them were from Meigs County.

As an abundance of precaution, the Meigs County Health Department is in a “situational awareness and monitoring” mode to adapt to changing information and circumstances.

Schools In Meigs County

The Meigs County Health Department and other agencies were set to meet with all three school districts March 13 according to Davis. He said that meeting would continue even in light of Gov. Mike DeWine’s announcement to close schools in the state for three weeks. Davis said that the health department will be working with the schools throughout this time to prepare for when the students return as well.

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announced that due to COVID-19, he has ordered that all kindergarten through 12th grade schools close for a period of several weeks. Beginning at the conclusion of the school day on Monday, March 16, all K-12 schools will close to students through Friday, April 3. This order includes all public, community, and private K-12 schools in the state, but does not apply to Ohio’s childcare system such as daycare centers and home-based childcare providers. During this extended period of closure, schools should work to provide education through alternative means and school district leadership may make decisions on whether to use their school buildings. Staff members should continue to report to school as directed by administrators.

What to do if you are sick

Midkiff said it was important limit contact even if you are going to the doctor. She said people should call ahead to their health care providers so that they can instruct you on protocols if you believe you have the virus. She added that flu season has not peaked yet and it is still advisable to follow precautions to avoid the flu and there was still time to get a flu vaccination.

Midkiff said that it at this point, a doctor’s order is still required to be tested for COVID-19.

Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

What to do if you have symptoms

  • Call ahead to health care provider
  • Limit person to person contact
  • If sick, stay home
  • Seek medical attention with a high fever, or acute respiratory issues

Midkiff added that the measures are to help reduce the burden on the health care systems and again, to be aware of the vulnerable members of the county’s population which are the elderly and those with underlying health conditions. “We need to do what we always have done. Meigs County takes care of Meigs County,” Midkiff said.

The Meigs Independent Press will continue to update and monitor this story as needed.