Local positive COVID-19 cases are likely not an accurate representation of the actual numbers, Greenfield City Manager Todd Wilkin reported at the village’s virtual council meeting this week.
“This is interesting because the definitions and tracking of COVID-19 cases has evolved a bit,” Wilkin said. “I think it is safe to say that since we have limited access to testing, our numbers may actually be under-reported. Some think the change in the definition is only a way to inflate the COVID-19 numbers, but I agree with Highland County Health Commissioner Jared Warner that the numbers of positive cases are probably under-reported due to lack of testing.”
Greenfield health care provider Charley Roman recently acquired 100 rapid-test kits. He has used approximately 75 of those and had 19 positive tests — four individuals with active symptoms and 15 individuals testing antibody-positive. It is important to note that the rapid tests are not FDA approved. However, the tests could be accurately reporting positives, Wilkin said.
The health department is working with Roman and reporting the tests results as directed by the state, Wilkin said. Roman said he has approximately 20 tests left, but is hopeful to receive 100 more by next week.
“We are continuing to learn through this virus and have found different ways to lead through the crisis,” Wilkin said. “We don’t fully understand how the government will be reopening the state and allowing commerce to commence, but we know we need to do it slowly.”
The city manager continues to meet daily via conference call with the Highland County Emergency Management Agency.
The city manager also touched on a village-wide event where, on April 20 at 8:20 p.m., people across Greenfield turned on their porch lights as a way to recognize the class of 2020 that is missing out on so many senior year milestones due to the pandemic. During the event, the football field lights and lights at the softball field at Mitchell Park were also lit, and the Presbyterian Church played the McClain alma mater from its bell tower. Wilkin said the event was a testament to the community support.
What also occurred, though unknown to the village or school officials, was a group of about 50 or so seniors gathering on the football field to take a group picture. The photo has made the rounds on social media, and the village has received negative calls regarding it.
Wilkin, in his report to council, made it clear that neither the village or the school had any knowledge that anything like a group photo was going to take place.
The village has been in contact with school officials regarding plans that are in development to hold some sort of graduation, and the village intends to accommodate wherever it is needed to help the graduates be recognized, Wilkin said. However, it was noted that the action of so many students ignoring the social distancing recommendations underscores the need to be more cautious when carrying out these plans.
As a reminder, village offices are closed to the public until at least May 1 when Ohio’s current stay-at-home order expires. Residents can pay their water and sewer bills by phone by calling 937-981-2082, online through a link on the village’s website at greenfieldohio.net, by dropping off your payment in either the drop box on the first floor of the City Building or in the drop box in the alley behind the City Building, or by setting up a recurring payment from a bank account with the water department. If there is other business to be handled with the village offices, call at 937-981-3500. For building department correspondence, email Holly Ellinger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If someone has concerns about their health, they should call their health care provider and explain the situation. There are numbers available for people to contact to ask questions and seek out guidance if they are sick. Those are: Ohio Department of Health at 833-427-5634; Highland County Health Department at 937-393-1941; and the Adena COVID-19 hotline at 740-542-7233.
“I want to thank our employees, the public, and our business partners through this tough time and for their patience and consideration,” Wilkin said at the conclusion of his report. “We are stronger together as a community, as a state, and as the United States of America.
“We hear so much information through the media that we struggle to understand all of it, but through it all, we are all human beings made in the image of God, and as long as we work together and pray, we’ll see better days.”
A banner, donated by Hillsboro to Greenfield reflecting the city manager’s sentiment, is hanging at the intersection of Jefferson and Washington streets.
Angela Shepherd is a correspondent for the village of Greenfield.