A McClain High School student has been tested for the coronavirus, according to local health and emergency services personnel. Tests results are expected back sometime Wednesday.
Local officials declined to give the person’s age or gender — to protect their identity — but said the student was in grades 9-12. A parent of a Greenfield student who said they had received a call notifying them that a student had been tested said the student was a male.
Highland County health, emergency, county and Greenfield officials called an impromptu press conference Saturday at the Highland County Health Department.
“We’re not trying to be secretive or not transparent. We just want to protect the person’s identity,” Highland County Health Department Commissioner Jared Warner said. He said the goal of the press conference was not to incite fear, but to educate the public. He said all local officials will continue to pass information on as soon as it becomes available.
Warner said officials made 162 phone calls Saturday to people the student may have had contact with.
“We are projecting a 60 percent infection rate statewide,” Warner said. “It’s not a matter of if, it’s when we see it here.”
He said anyone with the symptoms should quarantine themselves and stay away from the elderly.
Paint Creek Joint EMS/Fire District Lt. Branden Jackman said the primary symptoms are a fever and dry cough. He said the symptoms are not the same as the flu or a cold.
Highland County Emergency Management Agency Director Dave Bushelman said there is an application on the agency’s website people can register for to receive updates on the coronavirus, also known as Covid-19.
“If you are not symptomatic, you do not need to be tested,” Warner emphasized.
Paint Creek Chief Dave Manning said emergency personnel are working with Highland District Hospital and Adena Greenfield Medical Center officials on the proper method to transport and receive potential patients.
Warner said the highest risk group includes people age 16 and older.
“At some point we’re going to have cases. It’s going to happen, one way or another,” Warner said. “Right now the skies are blue, but as some point we’re going to be in the eye of the hurricane.”
Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin thanked local health and emergency personnel for being proactive in their approach to the virus. He said Greenfield officials are encouraging village residents to pay their water and sewer bills online rather than coming to the village offices. He also said visits to the village jail have been postponed. But otherwise, he said, the village is conducting business as usual.
“We’re just trying to be smart about what we do,” Wilkin said. He said the village is following the lead of Paint Creek Chief Dave Manning, Warner and Bushelman.
“I just want to say that as far as the county goes, I think we’re in good hands,” Highland County Commissioner Jeff Duncan said. “… From what I’ve witnessed today, they are as prepared as they can be.”
Warner said people with questions about the coronavirus should contact the Ohio Department of Health’s call center.
He said officials found out about the McClain student through processes that were already in place, and declined further comment to protect the student. He said that hopefully the tests will come back negative, but he thought that the responsible thing to do was to let the public know someone had been tested.
Warner said he first learned about the student Thursday evening, and that Greenfield Superintendent Quincey Gray has been working especially hard to keep the situation under control.
“The school’s been great. There have been a lot of behind the scenes conversations,” Warner said. “…I think it got here a little bit faster than we all thought it would.”
Warner said he wanted local residents to know that as soon any information becomes available, it will be passed on to the public.
“Just be nice to each other,” Manning said. “We’re all in this together.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.