Hancock County identifies its first case of COVID-19

Hancock County Health Commissioner Karim Baroudi announced at news conference this afternoon, March 22, the first case of COVID-19 in Hancock County.

“We got notification from Ohio Department of Health early this morning that a 21-year-old female, a Hancock County resident, has been confirmed with COVID-19,” said Baroudi.

The case sets in to motion days of planning between the City of Findlay, Hancock County Commissioners, Hancock County Public Health, and Blanchard Valley Health Systems.

It also puts a spotlight on emerging information over the last few days, according to Hancock Public Health Medical Director, and Infectious Disease Specialist at Blanchard Valley Health System Dr. Nathaniel Ratnasamy.

“Initially our main concern was for elderly people. They were showing the highest mortality rates,” said Ratnasamy. “Now, as we get more information, we realize younger people are also at risk of hospitalization.”

Dr. William Kose, Chief Medical Officer at Blanchard Valley Health System, said the patient did not come through its system.

“This patient was not tested at BVHS,” said Kose. “She was tested outside of the community.”

University of Findlay Communication and Design Specialist, Natasha Lancaster tells the Pulse via email that they have been following the situation very carefully.

“(We) have been able to confirm that the subject of the confirmed case of COVID-19 in Hancock County was not a University of Findlay student,” Lancaster said.

Public Information Officer for Hancock County Health Craig Niese said the patient is self-quaranting.
“The patient is not hospitalized and is self isolating,” said Niese in an email to the Pulse. “Our office is reaching out to the patients contacts and informing them to self quarantine for 14 days.”
Baroudi said they could not release much information about the patient.
“Because of privacy information, we want to be compassionate as we go through this,” said Baroudi. “At this point, if we are concerned about you being in contact, we will reach out to you. I don’t want you to worry. Disease investigators are getting in touch with all the contacts.”
Kose pointed out that while the first case is concerning, it’s not a surprise.
“BVHS has been preparing for this, the hospital as well as Bluffton (hospital),” Kose said.
The Blanchard Valley Hospital has established a triage center. People experiencing three of the following four symptoms: shortness of breath, cough, fatigue, or fever of 100.4 can call 419-423-7890 to be considered for testing for COVID-19.
Bluffton will be opening a triage line as well tomorrow. That number is 419-369-2399
Kose also said Behaviorial Health is open. That number 888-936-7116.
“We’re in for a long haul,” Kose said. “This is something we’ve already heard, we’re not sure what it’s going to take to flatten the curve.”

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