Scioto County Emergency Management gives update on COVID-19

Staff Report

PORTSMOUTH – Scioto County Emergency Management (EM) and the Portsmouth City (PCHD) and Scioto County Health (SCHD) Departments continues to be actively engaged in efforts to contain and mitigate the COVID-19 outbreak in our county.

While no cases of the Coronavirus have been confirmed in Scioto County there have been several dozen individuals who voluntarily isolated themselves, however community spread anticipated.

The Ohio Health Department reported as of Sunday (15 March 2020) that there is 37- confirmed COVID-19 cases across Ohio.

Governor DeWine has made sweeping emergency orders to try to prevent and mitigate loss of life from the pandemic including closing schools and limiting gatherings and taking the unprecedented action of closing all bars and restaurants in Ohio to dine-in customers as of 9 pm Sunday evening (15 March 2020). All these steps are being taken to try to isolate and distance people in hope to limit the spread of the pandemic and not to overwhelm local healthcare capacity.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton says that the drastic actions the state is taking right now will save lives.

On the local scene with the growing concern over the COVID-19 epidemic in China and other parts of the world, the Scioto County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) opened 6 March 2020 for assessment, pre-planning, and review of the Medical and Health Annexes of the Scioto County Emergency Plan with health officials.

The Portsmouth City and Scioto County Health Departments took the lead in the area’s response in initial scope of infectious disease outbreak awareness and specific protocol circulation for frontline health partners, including local hospitals, nursing homes, home care agencies, EMS departments and other first responders.

When the magnitude of the outbreak was becoming more obvious with information shared from state and federal health officials, an “All Hands Meeting” was held at the EOC with health and elected officials and other community stakeholders to discuss specific plans for dealing with persons who may have had exposures and who were screened at health facilities as not positive for things such as Flu A and B. If exposure and Flu testing criteria were met for a Corona

Virus Test, then local officials were having testing done and all persons that were positive contacts of the person of investigation were tracked and were asked to voluntarily quarantine.

To help prepare our local healthcare providers of the growing emergency the EOC pushed out emergency public information and protocols established by the Ohio Department of Health and Local Health Departments out to all health partners and discussed ramping up EOC operations once the virus was becoming more widespread.

With a shortage of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) caused by rising global demand, panic buying, hoarding and misuse the EOC identified early on the need to restock the limited supply of PPE for our first response agencies and healthcare workers and sent a request for assistance the Ohio Emergency Operations Center a week ago for additional PPE.

With the Federal Declaration of Emergency issued this weekend and the Governor’s Declaration of

Emergency such resources may be available in limited supply to the EOC later this week.

EMS, hospitals and other first response agencies would be distributed whatever limited supplies the state would permit to the county.

The EOC will transition from Assessment to Operational Status this coming week

to coordinate with social service agencies better and help emergency service workers with response

capabilities and to coordinate with health department leadership on ever-changing protocol issuance to field workers in health care.

The primary role of the EOC will be emergency public information and resource management with referrals on social service agency care availability as programs become available for people.

The Scioto County Commissioners will be working with the Scioto County Department of Job and Family Services on the unemployment and family assistance issues afforded through several state programs opening in the coming weeks

Staff Report