Second coronavirus case confirmed in Highland County

By Jeff Gilliland -

Highland County has its second confirmed case of the new coronavirus, but the real surge of local hospitalizations is about two weeks away and likely will not hit a high point until mid May, according to county officials.

“Models provided by Ohio State University and the Ohio Department of Health indicate that we are still in the early stages of this pandemic,” Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner said Tuesday. “There are some estimates that show Ohio’s surge in hospitalizations happening in about two weeks, with a high point in the middle of May. I would guess that Highland County will be a little later than our largest population centers.

Branden Jackman, public information officer for the Highland County Emergency Operations Center, said officials were informed Tuesday of the second case of the new coronavirus in the county.

“The female is in her 40s, is resting at home, and is in self-isolation. This is a community acquired case,” Jackman said. “Your Highland County Health Department will be in contact daily with the individual to track their symptoms and condition.”

Officials were informed of the first case in the county on March 23. It involved a female in her ’60s. Jackman said the health department has remained contact with her daily since the first day her case was confirmed.

“She is on the mend and seems to be doing well, and her family is also doing well,” Jackman said.

As of Tuesday, he said there were 2,199 confirmed cases in the state of Ohio with 585 of those cases requiring hospitalization.

“Now more than ever, it is time to observe physical/social distancing to flatten the curve on COVID-19, wash your hands, cover your cough, stay at home, and don’t touch your face,” Jackman said.

There’s a website that tracks the average distances everyone travels daily by collecting information from the GPS in phones, according to Jackman. He said the information is being used to grade people on whether they are adhering to the stay at home order and observing social distancing.

“As a whole, the United States has a grade of an A, which means the average distance traveled has decreased by greater than 40 percent,” Jackman said. “Ohio, on the other hand, has a grade of C, which means there was a 20 to 30 percent decrease in average distance travelled. Highland County received the same grade of C.

“I know Highland County can do better to help flatten the curve. Just before the stay at home order was issued, Highland countians decreased average distance travelled by 43 percent, but has slipped to where we are at only a 25 percent reduction as of March 26. We all need to do our part to only go out for essentials, practice physical/social distancing, stay home if you are sick, wash those hands, and cover your cough.”

He said that while he realizes most people have been out of their home at one point or another since the stay at home order, it’s important to maintain a physical distance from everyone.

“It’s all our responsibilities to help flatten the curve as much as we can. We must take personal responsibility to sanitize our hands with soap and water or hand sanitizer, we must cover our cough or cough into our elbow, we must remember to not touch our face, we must stay home if we’re sick and above all else, if it’s essential to leave your home, please maintain the physical distancing of a minimum of six feet to flatten the curve in Ohio,” Jackman said.

As Governor Mike Dewine noted in a Sunday press conference, Jackman said the Ohio National Guard is going to play a bigger part in the capacity planning and preparation for the expected surge in coronavirus cases.

“This is not a cause for concern, and as we have more information on what roles the National Guard will play moving forward, we will release it into the public space as fast as possible. You will start to see the National Guard more and more in our communities,” Jackman said.

“We want to continue to stress that if you can manage your symptoms, please stay at home,” he added. “If you come to a point where you can no longer manage them, please call ahead to any health care provider and advise them of your symptoms whether that be your family doctor, 911 or the emergency department.“

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522.

By Jeff Gilliland