COVID-19: Dozens of staff, volunteers dedicated to contact tracing in Montgomery County

Local News

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Officials with Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County held a news conference Tuesday afternoon to give an update on COVID-19 response in the area.

Health Commissioner Jeff Cooper was joined by Mayor Nan Whaley, Sarah Hackenbracht with the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, and Public Health Medical Director Michael Dohn.

As of Tuesday afternoon, there were 237 COVID-19 cases reported to the state out of Montgomery County, leading to 78 hospitalizations and eight deaths.

Cooper says that even though the state plans to slowly reopen the economy, the coronavirus is not going anywhere and we can expect to see an increase in cases as people return to work. Roughly 30 individuals with Public Health are dedicating their time to contact tracing in an effort to track the spread of an infected individual, but Cooper says they may potentially need to double that workforce as the economy opens back up.

He is advising universities to plan for the possibility of distance learning for the fall, since social distancing will likely still play a key role in containing the spread of the virus.

Mayor Whaley took a moment to share her gratitude with various organizations that have made donations to protect the City’s frontline workers including Henny Penny, Belle of Dayton, Hendrickson, Meijer, Five Below, and Dollar Tree.

She says that although technology is making it difficult to allow for public comment at the City’s virtual meetings, anyone wishing to offer comment can do so by contacting the Mayor at nan.whaley@daytonohio.gov. You can also call the City Commission office at 937-333-3636 or reach out through social media.

She urges residents to participate in the “Strive for 5” campaign and reach out to five new people each day in an effort to combat mental health issues that may be at play throughout the pandemic.

Sarah Hackenbracht with the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association says that although Ohioans are flattening the curve, area hospitals continue to add layers to their surge capacity plan.

“We are now looking in partnership with nursing homes and local health departments in regards to how hot spots may impact our region’s hospitals,” she says. “This allows us to focus more deeply on how our hospitals can engage with congregate settings and assist them should a hot spot begin to emerge.”

Hackenbracht likened the importance of acquiring the right testing materials to using a Nespresso pod in a Keurig coffee maker.

“It won’t work,” she said. “That is where we are challenged in that we need very specific types of testing materials and reagents for the machines in our region.”

Testing and the availability of PPE continue to be some of the biggest concerns from hospitals when discussing the idea of Ohio’s economy reopening.

Medical Director Michael Dohn says contact tracing attempts to create an island out of a single coronavirus patient and the people they may have inadvertently infected.

He says of the more than 200 reported virus cases in Montgomery County, there have been 344 contacts that have been traced. According to Dohn, they made contact with 54 individuals who were recent travelers coming back into the area.

Dohn says their own healthcare staff, medical volunteers, and sanitarians have helped in these efforts.

He urges the use of masks in public even if you think it will just be a quick fifteen minute trip to the store. You may be fine, but on the other hand, if you’re asymptomatic you have just exposed yourself to the many other people or workers who may be inside the store.

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