Coronavirus: Mass gatherings for Easter too risky during pandemic, health commissioner says

Public health officials expressed concern Thursday — the same day two more COVID-19 related deaths were reported — about mass gatherings for this coming Easter Sunday.

Bringing people together, even for religious reasons, in the middle of a pandemic is too risky, Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper of Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County said during an update on the coronavirus situation.

“That would simply be wrong and we have to do the right thing,” Cooper said.

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No one has immunity, and many are carriers but do not have symptoms.

“Please protect your congregation,” said Cooper, who suggested using technology to provide alternate means of worship for Easter Sunday.

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The county now has four deaths and 156 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 50 hospitalizations. The deaths involve two men and two women, with three of them 80 or older, and one person between 50 and 59, according to Ohio Department of Health data.

Nan-C Vann, project manager of Public Health’s maternal and infant vitality task force, said there are thousands of expectant mothers in the county, and that there is no evidence that COVID-19 affects pregnancy or passes from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery or breast-feeding.

“The best way to have healthy babies, is to have healthy moms,” Vann said.

She said as more women consider home birth, that hospitals and certified birthing centers are still the safest places to deliver because they have the necessary equipment and skilled staff to anticipate every need.

Once babies are home, she said it is important to limit their contact with relatives until the crisis is over because the immune system of an infant is not as robust, and she also reminded to follow the ABC of infant sleeping, which stands for alone, on their backs, and in a crib.

Montgomery County Commissioner Judy Dodge, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, Sarah Hackenbracht, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association and Dr. Michael Dohn, Public Health medical director, also spoke.

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