Washington County has now had three deaths from COVID-19, the Washington County Health Department confirmed Tuesday.
Washington County’s second confirmed death from the virus was a woman in her 40s who is a resident of the county, outside of Belpre and Marietta city limits.
According to the state data released Tuesday, she only fought the virus for three days before dying Monday.
“From confirmation to death, yes, that was three days,” said Val Betkoski, director of nursing for the county health department. “(And) in actuality I know I have a third, but don’t have the particulars of it yet.”
The third confirmed death, Betkoski said, happened after the state deadline to report.
“And our first gentleman to die was actually getting better but had underlying health conditions,” she explained. “This only underscores that for people who are positive for the virus but aren’t feeling that ill, it is ultimately important that they stay home.”
The first death had been a man in his 70s.
Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, said during a press conference Tuesday that of the state’s confirmed and clinically diagnosed 7,280 cases, the state saw its first major uptick in deaths early this week.
“We did see approximately 50 deaths in the last day,” said Acton during the daily state press conference. “Even somebody that’s recovered can still be potentially spreading the disease.”
With the aim of slowing the spread of the virus, Betkoski asked Tuesday that local law enforcement and family members of an individual with a confirmed or clinically diagnosed case coordinate with the health departments to enforce quarantine orders.
“The health department does have the authority to ask law enforcement to detain those people, that’s been on the books since tuberculosis was rampant,” she said. “We don’t want to have to use that, but we can.”
This issue was also brought up during recent board of health meetings for both the county department which has jurisdiction over residents living outside of the Belpre and Marietta corporate limits and the Marietta-Belpre board.
Marietta Police Chief Rodney Hupp said Saturday his office received warning from family members of an individual who was instructed by the county health department to quarantine at home.
He said the individual was reportedly defying the county health department order to stay home and was headed into the city to pick up family members to go shopping.
“Exactly where do we fall? Do I arrest them for inducing panic, do I arrest them for misconduct in an emergency, I don’t have those answers,” said Hupp.
Hupp was not given answers Saturday at the emergency Marietta-Belpre meeting and still awaits the board’s decision this week on whether the joint city department may share the names and addresses of current COVID-19 cases with first responders in both cities.
The Washington County Board of Health also discussed that sharing of information Monday, but came to no added consensus on how much information to share or on clarifying what the initial action taken April 7 means when it states to share cases with EMA Director Rich Hays.
The Marietta-Belpre Health Department will next meet entirely virtually via Zoom call Friday at 10 a.m.
Janelle Patterson may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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