Coronavirus: Cloth masks urged to help contain outbreak

Dr. Michael Dohn, medical director Public Health - Dayto & Montgomery County. FILE

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Dr. Michael Dohn, medical director Public Health - Dayto & Montgomery County. FILE

Cloth masks appear to help more than originally thought with reducing the risk of the new coronavirus spreading among people, local health officials said Tuesday.

People in Ohio are not required to wear masks when going out, but are being urged to do so in order to slow the spread of the respiratory disease, especially as the state gets closer to a phased re-opening that will start May 1.

The main benefit that homemade masks provide is they help people who might be sick but not know it reduce the risk of their germs spreading to other people. Researchers are still learning more about the rate of cases of this particular coronavirus that don’t have symptoms but asymptomatic spread so far appears to play a significant role in what makes the outbreak so hard to contain.

MORE: Careful, phased approach needed to re-open or Ohio pandemic cases could resurge

Dr. Michael Dohn, medical director for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County, said the research shows so far that cloth masks seem to be working better that originally thought in reducing the virus spreading.

For example, when shoppers wear masks while out in public, it helps protect grocery store workers from the risk from their contact with customers all shift.

If someone runs out to the grocery store for 15 minutes, Dohn said “if you do that without a mask, you may be fine. It’s a very short exposure. On the other hand the people who work at that store, they are there for that eight hours shift and they are going to be exposed to lots and lots of people.”

Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County Jeff Cooper said as the state slowly reopens in phases there likely will be a rise in cases, but officials will be working to respond and the outbreak curve should look more like a roller coaster with ups and downs.

“That curve will modulate and we’ll see periodic spikes in cases,” Cooper said, adding that officials are particularly concerned about protecting people in congregated living spaces such as nursing homes, homeless shelters and jails.

There have been 13,250 test confirmed cases since the start of the outbreak and 94,239 tested in Ohio as of Tuesday afternoon, with 475 additional probable cases.

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The state does not yet have regular updates on the number of people who have recovered from the virus. Recovery from a severe case of COVID-19 can be a long process, with patients in the ICU sometimes staying 20 days.

In Butler County, there have been 184 confirmed cases, with 56 hospitalizations and two deaths.

In Clark County, there have been 28 confirmed cases with nine hospitalizations and no confirmed deaths.

In Champaign County, there have been seven confirmed cases, two hospitalizations and one deaths.

In Darke County, there have been 58 confirmed cases, 12 hospitalizations and 11 deaths connected to an outbreak at a Greenville nursing home.

There have been 39 Greene County cases reported, including nine who were hospitalized, and three deaths.

In Montgomery County, there have been 237 cases, 78 hospitalizations, and eight deaths.

In Miami County, there have been 133 cases in Miami County with 47 hospitalizations. Twenty-two people have died, including 18 people connected to outbreaks at two nursing homes.

In Preble County, there have been 25 confirmed cases, five hospitalizations and one death.

In Warren County, there have been 117 confirmed cases, 19 hospitalizations and 10 deaths.

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