TOLEDO, Ohio — The Toledo-Lucas County Health Department building at 635 North Erie St. is closed to the public until March 31 as two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 and there are two others with presumptive positive tests.
Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski is in self quarantine out of an abundance of caution. He is asymptomatic. All staff working at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) began working virtually on Thursday. As of early Thursday afternoon, no in-person news briefing was planned by health department personnel.
A deep cleaning of the building will be performed over the weekend, health officials said.
During the daily state coronavirus briefing, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton highlighted the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department cases and response.
"Much of their health department is now in isolation or quarantine," Acton said.
When a local health director is self-quarantined, as in the case with Toledo-Lucas County, there are lots of plans in place, Acton said.
"Fortunately a lot of those people are already working form home. They were exposed, but they are not sick with it. They are doing their epidemiology work at home," she said. Acton said there is an entire health department contingency plan in place, and there is an amateur epidemiologist workforce that is also being developed by the state.
The situation at the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department is the first case in the state of a local health department being affected by positive cases of COVID-19, Acton said.
The closure of the health department building means that several types of appointments will shift. Tuberculosis Clinic appointments that are already scheduled as home visit tests will continue but new appointments cannot be scheduled until after at least April 6. All STD clinic appointments scheduled for Friday, March 27, are canceled and can be rescheduled after April 6.
The health department site for WIC (Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children) is closed through Monday, March 30. All other WIC sites are open, but nearly all have changed operating hours. Health department WIC participants with appointments will be contacted regarding when they can come and have their cards loaded. All other participants should call their home WIC office if they have questions.
Facts not fear: Putting COVID-19 into context
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Protect yourself from coronavirus
- Cover: Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.
- Dispose: Throw used tissues in a lined can.
- Wash hands: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.
- Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not readily available, use and alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, covering all surfaces of your hands and rubbing them together until they feel dry.
- Avoid touching: Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.