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The Ohio Department of Health (ODH), in coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local partners, is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illnesses caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December. Health experts are concerned because little is known about this new virus and because of its potential to cause severe illness in some people.

The outbreak has been declared a public health emergency by the U.S. and the World Health Organization. ODH has issued a health alert, and Amy Acton, MD, MPH, Director of ODH, has declared COVID-19, a Class A reportable infectious disease. This means any confirmed or possible case must be reported immediately to a local health district, which will report it to ODH. It will then be reported to the CDC. Required reporters include health care providers, laboratory administrators, and any individuals having knowledge of a person with COVID-19.

The novel coronavirus is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, which means to become infected, people generally must be within 6 feet of someone who is contagious and come into contact with these droplets. Symptoms of coronavirus appear within two to 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, runny nose, and difficulty breathing. Reported cases have ranged from mild illness (similar to a common cold) to severe pneumonia that requires hospitalization.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19 infection.

The risk to the general public remains low. Fifteen U.S. cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed by the CDC as of February 13, 2020. To minimize the risk of spread, health officials and health care providers across the country are working together to promptly identify and evaluate any possible cases.

There are no confirmed cases in Ohio

ODH is actively working with local health departments and health care providers to identify possible cases of COVID-19 and to continue 24/7 monitoring, prevention, and control for all infectious diseases.

While novel coronavirus is of serious concern, it is far more likely that Ohioans will contract flu than COVID-19. As of February 1, the CDC estimates that there have been between 12,000 and 30,000 U.S. deaths from flu this season. There have been no confirmed deaths in the U.S. due to COVID-19.

To help prevent infection with COVID-19, take the precautions you normally would during cold and flu season:

  • Frequently wash your hands for 20 seconds or more with soapy water. If unavailable, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home while you are sick (except to visit a health care professional) and avoid close contact with others.
  • Cover your mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Get adequate sleep and eat well-balanced meals to ensure a healthy immune system.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The CDC does not routinely recommend the use of face masks by the general public to prevent respiratory illness and is not recommending their use at this time for the prevention of COVID-19.

If you have been in China anytime within the past two weeks, please contact your local health department of health care provider for guidance.

As of Sunday, February 2, 2020, U.S. citizens returning to the U.S. who have been in Hubei Province in the previous two weeks are subject to screening and up to 14 days of mandatory quarantine. U.S. citizens returning to the United States who have been to other parts of mainland China within the previous two weeks are subject to screening and up to 14 days of monitored self-quarantine.

Foreign citizens who have been to China in the previous two weeks are being denied entry to the U.S., with the exception of immediate family members of U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and members of flight crews.

The United States is sending all  travelers from China to 11 airports, none in Ohio.

Please continue to show care and compassion to all neighbors whether they be sick or not, recent travelers or not. Be sure to quell actions that could perpetuate a stigma attached to COVID-19.

Continue to find the latest updates at www.odh.ohio.gov/coronavirus. As this is a rapidly changing situation, this is the best way to get the most up-to-date information.