Coronavirus: Concern about outbreak shifts attention locally to surgical masks

Surgical masks are beginning to attract attention locally as concern continues to grow about the possibility of a coronavirus outbreak in the United States.

While health officials this week have said the threat across the nation and in Ohio remains low, Gov. Mike DeWine went to a microphone Thursday to say he still thinks people should be concerned about the possibility of an outbreak.

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In the Miami Valley, some people said they are very concerned.

"How many people are going to be killed before they can find a cure?" Tebin Burg, of Dayton, told News Center 7's Monica Castro on Thursday night.

Commer Henderson Jr., also of Dayton, said, "I've got the face mask already, even though it's not here."

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Dr. Marc Belcastro, chief medical officer, Premier Health, said it's not necessary for people to buy surgical masks because the purchasing activity will disrupt the supply when they will be needed.

"It's always possible if there was a run on all of our stores in our area in 24-48 hours that there would be a shortage and they would have to restock," Belcastro said. "That is always possible."

There have been no cases reported in Ohio to date and Public Health -- Dayton & Montgomery County is reminding everyone that currently 99 percent of all cases are in China and the remaining 1 percent of cases are spread over 18 other countries.

State and local health officials have said they are planning for the eventuality of an outbreak.

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Dan Suffoletto, public information supervisor, Public Health -- Dayton & Montgomery County, said his department has been contacting travelers who have been to China or who have been traveling overseas.

Public Health also has sent a health alert to the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association to have them forward to healthcare professionals within the county and region, is coordinating with the Dayton Fire Department to develop and forward an informational bulletin to EMS, and will continue to monitor the situation and if warranted the agency will activate the Incident Management Team.

At the Ohio Department of Health in Columbus, "Our state stands ready," director Amy Acton said.

According to state and local health officials, symptoms may include runny nose, headache, cough, sore throat, fever and a general feeling of being unwell.

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