ASHTABULA — The number of Ashtabula County coronavirus cases rose to two Sunday, according to the Ohio Department of Health, which reported the first case was in the city of Ashtabula.

Ashtabula City Health Department and city officials received notification Friday of its first positive case of the coronavirus. 

“Since the release of this notification, we know our residents have many questions and are concerned if they could have been exposed,” City Manager Jim Timonere said. “The City of Ashtabula is committed to keeping you informed and safe. We will abide by the guidelines and directives issued by the state of Ohio, the federal government and are prepared to put our own measures in place to ensure the safety of our community, if need be.”

The Ashtabula City Health Department is responsible for the disease investigation of any Ashtabula city resident who is diagnosed with a positive COVID-19 test. Protocols are in place for ensuring the safety and isolation of the infected individual. The disease investigation involves “contact tracing” of all persons with prolonged and close contact with the individual that has been diagnosed positive, said Christine Hill, Ashtabula City Health Commissioner.

The purpose of contact tracing is to find everyone who comes in direct contact with a sick patient, she said.

These individuals, known as contacts, are quarantined and watched for signs of illness for 14 days from the last day they encountered the sick patient. If the contact develops symptoms of COVID-19, they are immediately isolated, evaluated by their primary care physician who then makes a decision if testing is indicated, provided care, and the cycle starts again – all new patient’s contacts are found, quarantined and watched for 14 days.

“Contact tracing finds new cases quickly so they can be quarantined or isolated, stopping further spread of COVID-19,” Hill said. “When new cases are announced in a community and you are identified as a contact person, you will be notified by the responsible Health Department. You will be given directions and assistance on what it means for you and your family and what to do next. It is imperative you follow the directives and guidelines given to you by health officials to help stop the further spread to your family and the community.”

After a confirmed case is announced, if you do not hear from a Health Department official, then you are not considered a contact at this time.

“Keep in mind it is very possible people in our community could already be infected, contagious and are not experiencing symptoms,” she said. “Therefore, they have not sought medical care, nor have been tested. Practicing social distancing and proper hand washing and cough etiquette are your best defenses to help prevent you from getting sick.”

Controlling communal spread of COVID-19 is everyone’s responsibility. Gov. Mike DeWine has closed schools, many businesses, limited the amount of people who can gather and continues to stress the importance of limiting travel out of your home unless absolutely necessary.

“Further restrictions most likely will be implemented as the numbers of cases rise,” Hill said. “While these restrictions may be difficult, they are necessary to control the spread of COVID-19.”

Visit the City’s website at www.cityofashtabula.com for up-to-date information on changes to city operations and information related to COVID-19.

”We thank you for your cooperation, concern and prayers not only for our community but for the entire world in this very challenging time,” Timonere said. “Please take care of yourselves, check on elderly and at-risk neighbors and continue to take time for learning with your children during the school closure. By working together, we can make this terrible situation a learning experience and show the strength of our community to persevere in this time of need.”

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