TIFFIN — Seneca County now has 15 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) as of Wednesday at 3 p.m.
There has been one death in the county as a result of COVID-19, and there have been five hospitalizations.
Currently, no Seneca County residents are hospitalized with coronavirus, according to Seneca County Health Commissioner Beth Schweitzer, MPH.
During her weekly COVID-19 briefing streamed live on Facebook, Schweitzer shared the number of Seneca County residents who have received tests for the virus.
As of Wednesday at 3 p.m., Schweitzer said approximately 250 county residents have been tested for COVID-19 between Tiffin Mercy Hospital and Fostoria ProMedica Hospital.
Schweitzer added that some Seneca County residents have been tested at other locations outside of the county, but unless their test comes back as positive, the Seneca County General Health District is not notified of the test being performed.
Schweitzer said at least one of the positive cases was in a person that was asymptomatic. “I do want to remind you that if you’re interested in testing, if you have some symptoms, contact Mercy walk-in clinic, and that is where they are doing the testing,” Schweitzer said. “It’s based on the symptoms the person presents with.”
According to Schweitzer, the Seneca County General Health District has been receiving questions from community members as to how the county’s number of confirmed cases has stayed relatively low compared to surrounding counties.
“One thing that we know that has contributed to that is the fact that we have not had any major outbreaks in any of our congregate care facilities here in the county,” Schweitzer said. “Those outbreaks have occurred in some of the surrounding counties, making their numbers higher.”
Schweitzer said by “congregate care facilities,” she is referring to places such as long-term nursing care facilities and correctional facilities.
In terms of healthcare providers in the area who have tested positive for the virus, Schweitzer said she’s “not really sure,” but she knows of a “couple healthcare providers” that have tested positive.
“They may be healthcare providers that work in our county but live elsewhere, and have been tested elsewhere. So we may not have the exact number of healthcare providers we have working here in our county that have been positive,” Schweitzer said.
Schweitzer said one of the things that has helped keep the numbers relatively low in Seneca County long-term care facilities is that local nursing homes excluded visitors “very soon in the outbreak” and dedicated “special wings for those who do become ill.” Schweitzer said the facilities have also done “very consistent monitoring of both residents and workers for symptoms” and have been “very proactive” in keeping the number of positive cases relatively low.
Additionally, Schweitzer says the health department has been receiving several questions about why stores have been allowed to re-open, but schools can’t hold traditional in-person graduation ceremonies.
“What I’m doing to do is follow the guidelines given by the state, those have been guidelines that have been determined to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Schweitzer said. “In regards to graduations, the information provided to schools several weeks ago by the Ohio Department of Education was that all ceremonies be done virtually. However, the governor did loosen up those guidelines somewhat, and he gave recommendations including the fact that virtual would be the safest, but also some type of drive-up ceremony or a walk-through graduation in the gymnasium with just a few people present, family and just a few people from the school.”
Schweitzer said superintendents of schools in Seneca County developed their plans for graduation based on the guidelines given by the state.
“We did not make the decisions, we are not the entity that didn’t allow traditional graduations to occur,” Schweitzer said. “And if you remember, the most recent guidelines still limit gatherings to 10 or less.”
Statewide, there are 25,721 total cases of COVID-19. There have been 1,483 total deaths and 4,618 hospitalizations, including 1,248 ICU admissions, according to figures released Wednesday at 2 p.m. by the Ohio Department of Health.