Ohio Department of Health officials say state is preparing for the arrival of COVID-19

ODH announces testing protocol
Posted at 12:53 PM, Mar 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-07 16:29:05-05

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Governor Mike DeWine and state health officials held a news conference Saturday afternoon to provide an update on the Ohio's response to COVID-19.

As of Saturday afternoon, there are currently no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio, but five people have now been tested for coronavirus and the laboratory results are pending. Persons Under Investigation, or PUIs, have exhibited symptoms of respiratory illness, and have met the CDC criteria for coronavirus testing - they have either been in contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient, or have traveled or been in contact with someone who has traveled to an affected geographic area, namely: China, South Korea, Iran or Italy.

“As the COVID-19 situation evolves, the Ohio Department of Health, working in conjunction with hospitals, primary care providers, and other health care experts, has a plan to maximize our testing resources. We are prioritizing the patients who are the most vulnerable to be tested in the Department of Health’s State Laboratory, while ensuring those that need COVID-19 testing will be able to be tested,” said DeWine.

Amy Acton, M.D., the director of the Ohio Department of Health, said that the state is prepping to handle the potential cases of coronavirus that Ohio may get.

“We want to reassure Ohioans so there is no confusion. Information is critical to managing an outbreak of any infectious disease, and testing at our state lab offers the greatest ability for all of us to make the best decisions to protect the health of the greatest number of people. We will now be able to turn around results in an estimated 24-48 hours,” said Acton.

The state is taking a three-pronged approach to combat the virus. The first step is prioritizing at-risk individuals such as children, the elderly and the immunocompromised. The second step is for the general public who are not as at-risk as children or the elderly, to work with their primary care physician to undergo testing for COVID-19 by having a test ordered. The third step is what the state calls "sentinel surveillance," which the state is using to monitor the potential spread of the illness.

According to ODH, individuals who are hospitalized and meet the below criteria will have tests sent to the state lab:

  • Have a fever or signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness, (e.g., cough or shortness of breath) and have had close contact with a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient within 14 days of symptom onset.
  • Have a fever and signs/symptoms of lower respiratory illness, and a history of travel from affected geographic areas with widespread or sustained community transmission within 14 days of symptom onset.
  • Have a fever with severe acute lower respiratory illness and lack of alternative diagnosis (e.g., negative respiratory viral panel, negative rapid flu).

Health officials urge anyone who exhibits flu-like symptoms to reach out to their primary care physician so that a COVID-19 test can be ordered if necessary.

The Ohio Department of Health is now able to test for coronavirus in-house. Additionally, third-party company such as Lab Corp will also be able to run tests. The results will then be sent to the state so health officials can track the disease.

Health officials said that its not a matter of if Ohio will have a confirmed case of coronavirus but a matter of when—something that the state is readily preparing for.

On Friday, the Ohio Department of Health created a call center that is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. that you can call if you have questions about COVID-19. You can reach the call center by dialing 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634).

The call center is staffed with licensed nurses and infectious disease experts who will be available to answer questions and provide accurate information about coronavirus, the risk to the public, and Ohio’s response, according to ODH.

You can also visit for more information.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

COVID-19/2019 Novel Coronavirus Overview from the CDC:

“2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV/COVID-19) is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).”

“When person-to-person spread has occurred with MERS and SARS, it is thought to have happened mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread. Spread of MERS and SARS between people has generally occurred between close contacts.”

From News 5 and affiliated news outlets:

News 5's Coronavirus continuing coverage page

How to prepare your family and pets for COVID-19

EPA releases list of approved disinfectants to use against COVID-19

How to protect yourself from coronavirus when flying


The symptoms of coronavirus are fever and lower respiratory tract issues, such as cough and shortness of breath, according to the Cuyahoga County Board of Health.


Anyone traveling internationally should review plans in advance of their trip, and check the CDC’s COVID-19 Travel Information Page for daily updates and travel alerts.

Click here for the CDC COVID-19 Travel Information Page

Practice Good Hygiene

The CCBH recommends the following good hygiene practices to prevent coronavirus, as well as the flu, colds and other illnesses:

  • Sneeze or cough into the bend of your elbow to keep germs from spreading
  • Regularly wash your hands with soap and water/use alcohol-based hand sanitizer in between
  • Don’t share cups, spoons, forks, etc. with anyone
  • Don’t make food for anyone if you are sick
  • Don’t go to work or school if you are sick
  • Visit a doctor, urgent care or emergency department if you are sick – don’t take chances

Please contact your medical provider with any questions.

Guidance for those with compromised immune systems

Click here for specific guidance from the CCBH for anyone at higher risk for becoming ill.

Additional Resources

Cuyahoga County: See the CCBH page on coronavirus here.

Ohio Department of Health:

Click here for the Ohio Department of Health’s Coronavirus information page.

It is updated daily at 2 p.m. with the current number of confirmed cases, persons under investigation and persons under investigation who tested negative for the disease.

As of Thursday afternoon, there are zero confirmed cases in Ohio, three persons under investigation in Ohio, seven persons who have tested negative for COVID-19, and a total of 255 people who were or are under health supervision since the novel coronavirus was first reported.

More resources from ODH:

Fact sheet
Prevention infographic
Resources and information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The CCBH has created this list of coronavirus-related resources from the CDC:

Homepage for COVID-19 materials and information

Fact sheet – Chinese
Fact sheet – English
Fact sheet – Spanish

Guidance for businesses
Guidance for colleges and universities
Guidance for communities and mass gatherings
Guidance for healthcare facilities
Guidance for healthcare professionals
Guidance for people with elevated risk for illness
Guidance for pregnant women
Guidance for risk assessment
Guidance for schools
Guidance for travelers

What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 – Chinese
What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 – English
What you can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 – Spanish

If you are sick with COVID-19 – Chinese
If you are sick with COVID-19 – English
If you are sick with COVID-19 – Spanish

Preventing spread of COVID-19 at election/polling/voting locations
Prevention and treatment
Symptoms – overview

World Health Organization

Coronavirus information
Mythbusters – the truth about food, packages, pets and other things related to COVID-19

Video – What is COVID-19?
Video – What is my risk of getting COVID-19?
Video – How can I protect myself from COVID-19?

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