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Hospitals implement plans for treatment

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Valley hospitals are in the center of Ohio’s virus response.

Gov. Mike DeWine led his Thursday afternoon virus update by talking briefy about a 55-year-old man who has the novel coronavirus in Trumbull County. Though the governor did not specify, it is apparently the same patient who is at St. Joseph Warren Hospital, reported by Mercy Health a day earlier.

The governor called the person with the virus a “55-year-old male in Trumbull County … who has no travel history outside the state of Ohio. … Fortunately he did not go to work when he felt these symptoms. He felt sick.”

Twenty-seven people who have come in contact with the 55-year-old are in isolation, quarantine or are being monitored, said Sandy Swann, director of nursing for the Trumbull County Combined Health District.

As more people are identified who may have come in contact with the virus, the health department will reach out to the individuals and give them instructions, Swann said.

“As more contacts come to our attention, we will follow up on those contacts. If the public has not heard from us, then there is no reason for them to be concerned about being in contact with this individual,” Swann said, adding that people also should protect themselves from the flu and

common colds.

Another Mercy Health facility, St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, has added a large, yellow tent to an area near the emergency room. Nearby, the Mahoning County Emergency Management Agency Decontamination Unit truck was parked.

But Jonathan Fauvie, Mercy Health spokesman, said he could not comment on the reason for the tent. “As information becomes available, we will be sure to push that out to our media partners,” he said.

Akron Children’s Hospital is allowing only two visitors per day per patient. No siblings or children under 18 will be permitted. Hospital campuses are limiting entry points and will be screening visitors for illness, travel history and COVID-19 exposure. Large, heated tents at Akron Children’s emergency rooms in Akron and Boardman will be going up to expand capacity if needed. The hospital has narrowed its volunteer force to those younger than 60.

The newspaper contacted the Ohio Department of Health to ask whether any coronavirus cases had been diagnosed in Mahoning County, but a spokesperson there only said to watch DeWine’s afternoon briefing, which addressed the Trumbull County case — but did not mention any in Mahoning.

Dr. James Kravec, chief clinical officer for the Youngstown market of the Mercy Health, addressed preparations being taken at its hospitals in Warren and Youngstown. Steward Health sent an email stating the hospital system is preparing for the “likelihood that patients with coronavirus infections will require treatment” at its facilities.

Kravec said Mercy Health’s St. Joseph Warren Hospital and St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospitals are implementing response plans. “Nothing is reactionary,”he said.

Extra screening areas are being created so people who believe they have symptoms can respond to a screening location to be tested rather than go to the emergency room, though the location hasn’t been set yet, Kravec said.

He urged people to call their primary care doctors before seeking any medical care. He said the staff at the hospitals have personal protective gear and are well prepared to handle new cases.

Robert Pinti, Warren deputy health commissioner, said testing will be covered for people with Medicare and Medicaid.

The mayors of Youngstown, Warren, Struthers, Lowellville and Campbell — along with the health commissioners of Youngstown and Warren — set a 10 a.m. news conference today to discuss their outbreak preparedness. The session will be in the Covelli Centre’s community room.

news@tribtoday.com

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