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In Jefferson and Hancock counties, positive tests, concerns continue to rise

STEUBENVILLE — The Jefferson County Health Department on Saturday confirmed the number who have tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus has risen to 5.

That number includes four females and one male, of which three are between the ages of 50 and 64 and two are between 25 and 49, according to a posting on the Jefferson County Health Department’s Facebook page.

Also on Saturday, two new positive cases of COVID-19 had been identified in Hancock County.

The Hancock County Health Department made the announcement on its Facebook page Saturday afternoon. The new cases bring the total number in that county to three.

No additional information was provided by the Hancock County Health Department.

After reporting the first Jefferson County case, involving a 61-year-old woman, on Wednesday, Jefferson County Health Commissioner Nicole Balakos said details of future cases wouldn’t be released in order to protect the patients’ privacy.

But since then Balakos has arranged for the number of local cases, the number of males and females and the number in each age group to be posted on the department’s Facebook page.

The numbers indicate those who have tested positive, not the severity of their cases.

Balakos noted her health department and others in the state report confirmed cases on a daily basis to the Ohio Department of Health, which has been posting data for the state and each county on its website.

Found at https://coronavirus.ohio.gov, the website includes a tally of of hospitalizations and deaths, statewide and by county.

On Saturday the department reported 1,406 confirmed cases throughout Ohio, of which 344 resulted in hospitalization and 25 resulted in death. The average age for the patients was 52, according to the state department.

Balakos said the most important thing to take away from such updates is the virus has reached community spread status in the state.

“Ohio absolutely has community spread and we want to emphasize people should treat everyone as if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 just as they should treat themselves as though they may be carrying it,” she said.

Balakos noted people with the virus can spread it before displaying symptoms.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and others have advised cough, fever and shortness of breath are early sings of the disease.

Balakos said public health officials are finding that younger people with the virus often experience headaches and gastrointestinal symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, first.

She said many smaller health departments don’t offer testing and when they do, it is in conjunction with another entity that has a lab for such purposes.

Balakos said health departments are advised of all positive tests, whether they are conducted for a resident within or outside his home county.

She encouraged anyone who believes they have symptoms of the disease to contact their health care provider before going there to allow them to protect other patients against it.

She also encourages everyone to limit their trips to stores and work from home when possible. She said people also should limit contact to their immediate family members, avoiding older relatives who may have chronic health conditions that put them more at risk of a severe response to the disease.

Balakos added Trinity Health Systems is offering free health examinations through its Virtual Care program.

A $35 fee normally required for the service is being waived for those who believe they may have COVID-19 symptoms.

For information, visit franciscanvirtualcare.org or call (855) 356-8053.

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