Henry County Health Commissioner Mark Adams said the people of Henry County are responding well to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” he said. “Everyone’s on board.
“They are listening left and right,” he continued, adding they have not received any complaints about the measures being put into place. “People don’t want to hurt other people.”
Adams said the health department is participating in daily meetings via web conferencing software with local representatives from area fire/EMS departments, churches, schools and emergency management officials.
“I’ve never had it like it is here with any other place I’ve been,” said Adams, who has been the health commissioner in Henry County since May 2018. He noted during Wednesday’s meeting, the need of N95 masks for health personnel was discussed, and schools volunteered ones they had but aren’t currently utilizing because students aren’t in school.
“It’s actually uplifting,” Adams said. “There’s no panicking, it’s shared resources.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 88 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio and none of those are in Henry County. However, with officials believing the virus is circulating throughout communities without confirmation because of testing shortages, Adams said they have moved past waiting for the first confirmed case in the county.
“We assume it’s already here,” he said.
Once the county does have a confirmed case, the health department will perform contact tracing — finding those individuals who were in contact with the infected person. Adams noted the department is still issuing birth and death certificates and giving immunizations.
Adams said staff are also participating in daily conferences with the Ohio Department of Health and also during DeWine’s daily updates. After the announcements are made by DeWine, the orders follow later in the day.
“The state issues an order and the county (department) carries it out,” Adams explained.
He added food establishments in the county have been cooperating with the ban on dine-in restaurants and bars in the state.
“The partners are doing whatever possible to stop this spread,” he said.
Adams said the department has been receiving numerous questions on testing for the virus, with confusion circulating about the phrase “drive-thru testing” that’s often used.
He explained the drive-thru testing offered in some places in the state are intended to stop lines forming in emergency rooms and doctor’s offices, not just for people to drive through without previous screening from a doctor.
In addition to social distancing — staying 6 feet away from each other — frequent handwashing and cleaning commonly used surfaces and items such as phones, doorknobs and keyboards are recommended to prevent the spread of the virus. Adams added it’s more likely to become infected with the virus by touching a surface that has respiratory droplets on it from an infected person and then touching your eyes, nose or mouth than it is from having an infected person cough directly on you. He added that’s another reason why people don’t need the N95 masks, which are critical for health care providers to protect themselves as they are in close contact with infected individuals.
Overall, Adams said steps taken by state officials have been met with approval from public health officials.
“I am so proud of our state,” Adams said.