The city of Columbus confirmed Sunday afternoon that a firefighter has tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
The firefighter, who was not identified by the city, works at Fire Station 24 at Karl and Morse Roads. A city spokeswoman said the fire station is out of service until it can be sanitized. Emergency vehicles at the station have already been decontaminated.
“Thirty-one firefighters who had contact with this individual at the station are currently being evaluated,” city spokeswoman Robin Davis said in an email. “Franklin County Public Health is working with the Columbus Division of Fire to contact anyone else with whom the firefighter had contact, including those who he may have interacted with during service calls.”
Davis says the firefighter is one of the two Franklin County cases announced earlier Sunday. The city of Columbus confirmed its first case on Saturday.
Also on Sunday, Gov. Mike DeWine said it is "absolutely" a possibility that schools remain closed through the end of the academic year to help limit the spread of coronavirus.
“We’ve informed the superintendents while we close schools for three weeks, that the odds are that this is going to go on a lot longer and it would not surprise me at all if schools did not open again this year,” DeWine said on CNN’s State of the Union.
In a Sunday morning appearance on NBC’s Meet The Press, DeWine said “we’re certainly looking at” closing bars and restaurants as a means to encourage social distancing.
DeWine’s Sunday comments follow a flurry of news about COVID-19 cases. As of Sunday morning, there was one confirmed case in the city of Columbus, two others elsewhere in Franklin County and 26 statewide, although the state numbers did not include the Franklin County cases announced Sunday. State officials say the numbers are changing by the hour.
As of Sunday morning, no deaths had been reported in Ohio.
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.