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Montgomery County Provides Updates on Coronavirus Crisis Response

Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County (PHDMC)
Jess Mador
Public Health - Dayton and Montgomery County (PHDMC)

Montgomery County and Dayton officials delivered an update on Friday on what the region is doing to respond to the coronavirus crisis.

Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper said there were currently zero confirmed cases in the county, but stressed that the county knows there is already community spread in the area. State officials estimated Thursday that more than 100,000 people in Ohio already have the coronavirus. Cooper estimated that around 5,000 individuals throughout Montgomery County likely have the virus. 

The Cleveland Clinic reported Thursday that the hospital system had the capacity to test about 500 samples a day and is working to increase the testing capacity to 1,000 samples a day by the end of next week. 

“It's really no longer about counting cases and identifying persons under investigation because the numbers are going to just continue to grow,” Cooper said. “It's about slowing the spread of disease, slowing that disease transmission, making sure that we don't overwhelm our health care systems and that we can continue to provide essential services to our community.”

The health commissioner’s statement echoed comments Ohio Governor Mike DeWine made earlier in the day while voting at the Green County Board of Elections.

“The reality is that it won’t be too long until there’s so many people that have this that you wouldn’t be able to test them no matter how many testing kits you have,” DeWine told WYSO News.

Also at the press conference, Jennifer Wentzel, Director of Environmental Health for Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County, spoke about what restaurants and grocery stores can do to protect the public. 

She emphasized the importance of stocking bathrooms with soap and paper towels, and wiping down surfaces often, including menus, door knobs, and cash registers. Interior doors can be left open if it is not a fire hazard to reduce the number of touchpoints. Sick restaurant and grocery employees should stay home from work.

The Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Department of Agriculture recommended Friday that food service businesses close salad bars and buffets.

Jan Kelly, Director of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, said polling places are being provided with sanitation kits in preparation for the election Tuesday. She said over 1,400 people will be helping on election day, and residents interested in volunteering can go to their website or call (937) 225-5656.

“Being a no show on election day, if you've already signed up, is not acceptable,” she said. “We have to run the election and we really appreciate those that have stepped forward and are helping us. Because without you, democracy would not go forward.” 

Clerk of Dayton Municipal Courts Mark Owen spoke about the administrative court order issued Thursday by the United States District Court, Southern District of Ohio. He said eviction cases and jury trials will be postponed until after April 30th.

Mayor Nan Whaley added that the City of Dayton will suspend all water shut-offs until April 30. The city is working with the United Way to plan food delivery. She said they will need community members who do not have the virus, within recommended age limits, to help with food delivery. 

“I am incredibly worried about the economic impact, but we have to go through that. The first thing is to keep people safe and alive,” she said. “The second part is how do we really make sure that we have this safety net put in place? Frankly, we have ripped the safety net apart, and so we're trying to fabric that back together.”

There are no scheduled COVID-19 briefings from Public Health Dayton and Montgomery County this weekend. The next media briefing with health officials is scheduled for Monday.

While working at the station Leila Goldstein has covered the economic effects of grocery cooperatives, police reform efforts in Dayton and the local impact of the coronavirus pandemic on hiring trends, telehealth and public parks. She also reported Trafficked, a four part series on misinformation and human trafficking in Ohio.