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'The key right now is to slow down the spread': UH infectious disease expert talks latest coronavirus developments

Posted at 8:57 AM, Mar 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-12 08:57:44-04

CLEVELAND — Doctor Keith Armitage, an infectious disease expert at University Hospitals, joined the Good Morning Cleveland team on set Thursday morning to discuss the latest developments in the new coronavirus pandemic. Wednesday, Ohio reported its first case of “community spread” and more cancellations of large gatherings were announced.

Q- What do you do if you think you’re sick with COVID-19?

A-“If people have a mild illness, they should just isolate themselves. What they shouldn’t do is go to the doctor’s office or the ER without calling ahead. It is critical if people are going to seek care and they think they have the new coronavirus, call ahead so they can get a mask on. A lot of ERs will test somebody outside the ER so they don’t come in the ER and contaminate other people.”

Q- What is the public health objective with social distancing and canceling of large public gatherings in controlling the spread of the new coronavirus?

A-“The short-term goal with this epidemic is to slow down the spread. In the long-term we want to eliminate it, get a vaccine, but short-term goal is to slow it down. People in the medical profession see what’s happening in northern Italy. It is bad. The health care system is getting overwhelmed because it spread so fast. We need to slow down the spread. People need to take seriously this idea of social distancing. We shouldn’t have events of more than 25 people. No banquets. No dinners. No social events. People should spend time with family and friends, but people need to take it seriously. The great majority of people who would go to March Madness would not get sick. Young adults and kids are not dying of this disease, but they’re part of the spread and they spread it to the vulnerable. This is what’s happened in northern Italy and it’s really put a massive strain on the health care system. We need to slow the spread so that does not happen here.”

Q- What is the goal in how to end this outbreak?

A-“In the short-term, slow the spread. If we can slow it enough, maybe we can keep it from spreading and then we’ll get a vaccine. Whether a vaccine is -- highly optimistic -- 6-months, 8-months a year away. Long-term, vaccine is the key. Before we get a vaccine, slow it and see if we can stop it.”

Q- Could the new coronavirus be seasonal?

A-“I think it’s optimistic because it’s spreading in areas where it’s summer now. Tom Hanks is in Australia. It may help a little bit, but I don’t think we can rely on that.”

Q- Your final thought for folks?

A-“Take it seriously. Slow the spread.”

RELATED: Cleveland issues civil emergency to stop the spread of coronvirus — here's what that means

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Below you can find information and resources on novel coronavirus, COVID-19, from local, state, national and international organizations, including the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, the Ohio Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

News 5 will continue to update this section with new information, resources, links, and more as it is made available.

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

What is coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)? Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. The virus that causes COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that was first identified during an investigation into an outbreak in Wuhan, China.

Can people in the U.S. get COVID-19? Yes. COVID-19 is spreading from person to person in parts of the United States. Risk of infection with COVID-19 is higher for people who are close contacts of someone known to have COVID-19, for example healthcare workers, or household members. Other people at higher risk for infection are those who live in or have recently been in an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. Learn more about places with ongoing spread here.

Have there been cases of COVID-19 in the U.S.? Yes. The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported on January 21, 2020. The current count of cases of COVID-19 in the United States is available on CDC’s webpage here.

How does COVID-19 spread? The virus that causes COVID-19 probably emerged from an animal source, but is now spreading from person to person. The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses here.

Download and read the CDC's full "What you need to know about coronavirus disease (COVID-19)" information sheet here.


Global case numbers are reported by the World Health Organization (WHO) in their coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) situation report.

CORONAVIRUS IN OHIO

Coronavirus in Ohio:

As of Wednesday March 11, there were four confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ohio — three in Cuyahoga County, outside of Cleveland, and one in Stark County. Twenty four persons were under investigation for the disease. See the Coronavirus information page on the Ohio Department of Health's website for the latest numbers of confirmed cases and persons under investigation.

According to the governor, two of the confirmed cases are from a married couple that went on a cruise on the Nile River. The third Cuyahoga County case is from a person that went to the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. According to a cantor from the Jewish Temple in Beachwood, 160 people from Cleveland attended the conference. The three patients are between 54 and 56-years-old, according to officials. Read more on those cases here.

On Wednesday, health officials announced a fourth case in Ohio - a man in his mid-50s in Stark County. This case is the first example in the state of "community spread," meaning the man had not traveled out of the country, and had no known contact with an international traveler. Read more on that case here.

On Tuesday, after consulting with medical experts, Gov. DeWine announced wide-ranging, statewide recommendations, including holding sporting events without spectators and having colleges and universities switch to remote learning.

Then, on Wednesday, Gov. DeWine issued an order limiting the number of visitors to nursing homes and assisted living facilities in Ohio, and announced he would soon be issuing an order limiting public gatherings across the state.

Coronavirus' Impacts in Northeast Ohio:

Since the announcement of confirmed cases in Ohio, a number of local events, schools, facilities and more have announced closures, cancellations, postponements and changes as a result of coronavirus. News 5 is working to keep this information updated in the links below:

Here's a list of things in Northeast Ohio closed due to coronavirus concerns

Multiple Ohio colleges suspend in-person classes due to coronavirus concerns

The City of Cleveland has canceled its St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Cleveland International Film Festival, and issued a civil emergency in response to COVID-19.

More resources from News 5 and affiliates:

News 5's Coronavirus continuing coverage page

Worldwide Coronavirus Tracker from Johns Hopkins University

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

How to protect yourself from coronavirus when flying

Think you may have the coronavirus? Here’s what to do

A state of emergency was issued in Ohio following 3 positive COVID-19 cases. Here's what it means.

Cuyahoga County Medical Director answers your questions about coronavirus

Symptoms

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.

Symptoms
The three symptoms of coronavirus, according to the CDC

Travel

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:

Cuyahoga County: See the CCBH page on coronavirus here.
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
Ohio Department of Health:
Please contact your medical provider with any questions.
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.

Guidance for those with compromised immune systems

More resources from ODH:
Click here for specific guidance from the CCBH for anyone at higher risk for becoming ill.
Fact sheet
Prevention infographic
Resources and information

Cuyahoga County: See the CCBH page on coronavirus here.
Ohio Secretary of State:

Ohio Department of Health:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Click here for the Ohio Department of Health’s Coronavirus information page.
The CCBH has created this list of coronavirus-related resources from the CDC:
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.
Homepage for COVID-19 materials and information
More resources from ODH:
Fact sheet – Chinese
Fact sheet – English
Fact sheet – Spanish
Resources and information
Guidance for businesses

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 travelers
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
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
Homepage for COVID-19 materials and information
If you are sick with COVID-19 – Chinese
If you are sick with COVID-19 – English
If you are sick with COVID-19 – Spanish
Fact sheet – Spanish
Preventing spread of COVID-19 at election/polling/voting locations
Prevention and treatment
Symptoms – overview
Guidance for communities and mass gatherings
Guidance for healthcare facilities
Guidance for healthcare professionals
Guidance for people with elevated risk for illness
World Health Organization
Guidance for risk assessment
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?

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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