Coronavirus cases climb, testing in short supply

More than 66 people in the Dayton region have been confirmed with the disease caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

There are 18 Butler County confirmed cases, one in Champaign, one in Darke, two in Clark, three in Greene, 19 in Miami, 14 in Montgomery, and eight in Warren, according to the latest update posted at 2 p.m. Wednesday by the Ohio Department of Health.

There isn’t enough testing supplies and laboratory capacity to keep up with demand as the outbreak spreads, which has been slowing the time it takes for results to be returned to patients’ doctors.

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As frustration over testing builds, Dr. Michael Dohn with Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County warned people that paying for one of the rapid testing devices being marketed might not get them the results they want. These tests are looking for antibodies, which take time for your body to produce after getting sick.

“So after we get any infection, our body reacts to that and we begin to make antibodies. But you can’t find those right away. So you may get a test result in 20 minutes, but that test isn’t going to work for four weeks,” Dohn said.

With a national shortage of testing supplies, people who are sick enough to need hospital care are being prioritized for testing as well as at risk patients with underlying health concerns. Those in health care and in public safety have also been given more priority.

Those with a mild illness and no underlying conditions, which don’t need hospital care, are urged to stay home and get better, similar to how people with other respiratory illnesses would also in most cases stay home and take care of themselves.

Almost 1 out of 6 Ohioans with confirmed COVID-19 so far work in health care, which Public Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper called a disturbing trend.

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“It’s vital that everything we do moving forward, we have to protect our health care workers,” Public Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper said.

In Montgomery County, out of the 14 people who have had confirmed cases, two are hospitalized.

Health officials have said the cases that have been confirmed are only a small portion of the total number of people with the highly contagious virus.

“It’s pretty clear to all of us that we will never know the actual number of cases,” Cooper said.

The Warren County Health Department reported its eighth confirmed case of the novel coronavirus in the community on Wednesday. This includes six men and two women, with an age range from 22 to 74 years old.

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At an afternoon briefing about the coronavirus outbreak, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley said “the work that our our health care workers are doing is truly heroic, as they’re putting themselves in harm’s way, particularly those that are working in nursing homes and working in multiple nursing homes at a low wage.”

“It is amazing the compassion that people have for people that they’re not related to and are working to keep people alive,” Whaley said.

Sarah Hackenbract, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, asked that patients and visitors be kind to the hospital staff and health care workers responsible for implementing plans and making sure that visitors meet the safety criteria that’s been strictly limiting who can come in during the outbreak.

She asked that people who want to visit contact the hospital information line ahead of time, and not the emergency room, to make sure they meet the criteria of allowed visitors.

As hospitals work to have enough capacity and keep visitors safe, she again asked that the community helps hospitals be ready by staying home and slowing the spread.

“Help us be ready by staying home,” Hackenbract.

Some people have received a text that is a scammer pretending to be from Public Health, claiming they have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. This is a scam and Public Health does not make initial contact by text.

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