Columbus officials on Saturday confirmed the city's first case of coronavirus. Mayor Andrew Ginther and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts announced that a 49-year-old man had been tested and found to have COVID-19.
The man recently traveled on the Carnival cruise ship The Valor. He departed from New Orleans on February 29, traveled to Cozumel and the Yucatan in Mexico and then returned to New Orleans on March 5.
He arrived back in Columbus on March 6 and started having symptoms related to the coronavirus the next day. He is currently in isolation at his home and recuperating.
Since learning of the case on Friday night, the Columbus Board of Health has been contacting people who were with him over the last few days, Robert said.
Two people who live in the same residence as the man are in quarantine. Two other people who came in contact with the man are showing symptoms of the coronavirus, are being tested and are also in isolation.
Anyone in the Central Ohio who traveled on the Carnival The Valor cruise ship should contact the Columbus Department of Public Health.
Ginther said the case is not a surprise and expects many more cases in the area.
"We expected this and in the coming days and weeks we will have many, many more (cases)," Ginther said. "Our goal is slow the spread of the infection and lessen the impact on the community."
Ohio now has 26 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the state announced on Saturday.
Fourteen males and 12 females contracting the virus in Ohio Their ages range from 31-88 years old, with a mean age of 53. Seven people with the coronavirus are currently hospitalized, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton said.
Counties around the state with coronavirus cases include:
- Belmont County, 2 cases
- Butler County, 4 cases
- Cuyahoga County, 11 cases
- Franklin County, 1 case
- Lorain County, 1 case
- Stark County, 3 cases
- Summit County, 2 cases
- Trumbull County, 2 cases
On Friday, the Columbus Board of Health declared a local public health emergency. The order allows the city to quarantine and isolate people if necessary.
Ginther on Friday also announced the city is delaying shut-offs for unpaid power and water bills until April 15 to ensure residents can continue to wash their hands. The city is also closing all of its recreation centers until April 3. That move coincides with the state-mandated closure of all K-12 schools.
The Ohio Department of Health makes the following recommendations to protect yourself from illness:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
Ohio's coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634.