Listen

Columbus Confirms First COVID-19 Case

Mar 14, 2020

Columbus mayor Andrew Ginther and Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts
Credit Alison Holm / WCBE-FM

Columbus Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts says Columbus' first confirmed case is a 49-year old man who returned Monday from a cruise to Cuzomel, Mexico.

Roberts says the man developed sypmtoms when he returned to Columbus March 6th, and was tested for the coronavirus Thursday.  His positive results were returned Friday and he is recuperating in isolation at home.

"We have two household contacts that are in quarantine. and we have two contacts that have symptoms that are in isolation and are currently being tested."

Robert says the man travelled on the Caribbean cruise liner "The Valor" to the coast of Mexico, possibly as part of a group from Columbus.  she says the Health Department is tracing his contacts to see if there are more cases.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther says this case is not an example of "commuity-spread" but that is inevitable in this kind of epidemic.

"That is the normal trajectory of this infection. To reinforce Dr. Roberts and Dr. Acton and so many public health leaders, I want to remind the public to practicve safge hygiene.  Wash your hands. Cough or sneeze into your arm, not your hands.  Eliminate handshakes.  Practice social distancing, six feet between people.  If you are sick, stay home."

The original guidelines from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention indicated that older people with underlying conditions were more vulnerable to the coronavirus.  But the confirmed cases in Ohio do not fall into those categories.  Dr. Roberts says the guidelines continue to evolve.

"I think the demographics of our cases in Ohio really illustrate that there is so much we don't know about this disease. We think it's over-60 that are at greatest risk.  Likely they are at greater risk for complications.  We know that those with chronic health conditions are at greatest risk of complications, and those with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk of complications.  

But as we look at the data right here in Ohio, and our case right here, it does not appear that they fall in any of those categories. But they're still very symptomatic and positive test results.  So, we're learning, we're learning about the risk factors of this virus as we go."

On Friday the Columbus Board of Health declared a local public health emergency, giving the city extra safety measures to respond to COVID-19 cases.  The declaration allows for the quarantine and isolation of individuals with the virus.  Roberts stresses that free testing is available for individuals with symptoms, by calling the department a (614) 645-1519.