If -- or when -- a case of COVID-19 coronavirus appears in Delaware County, personnel at the Delaware County General Health District will be among the first to know.
As of March 11, only four cases -- three in Cuyahoga County, one in Stark County -- had appeared in Ohio, said county health commissioner Shelia Hiddleson.
When a COVID-19 case develops in Ohio, it will be rapidly identified by medical professionals, she said. Testing materials are available and health officials across the state have spread the word on how physicians can get them.
Any positive test results will be sent to the Ohio Department of Health laboratory in Reynoldsburg for confirmation, she said.
Many media reports have speculated about conditions that could arise during a COVID-19 "outbreak" -- a term Hiddleson said usually lacks a hard definition.
For example, she said, with some ailments and sicknesses, a certain number of cases is considered normal. If numbers rise above normal levels, she said, that could be considered an outbreak.
With coronavirus, the approach is different, she said.
It's considered a new disease, and with any new disease, a single case deserves to be considered an outbreak, she said.
For such an eventuality, she said, Delaware's health district will be prepared -- and won't go into panic mode.
The protocol includes communication with the ill person to learn with whom they recently had contact. Then those people will be contacted and interviewed, Hiddleson said.
One option is to quarantine the sick person for 14 days. Hiddleson said the health district is prepared to provide whatever is needed to help someone deal with a quarantine.
All residents will benefit if they have the needed resources -- such as food and prescribed medications -- to get by for two weeks, she said.
The precautions the public can take against coronavirus are much the same as for other illnesses, said Traci Whittaker, the health district's public information officer.
They include keeping distance from others, staying home when sick, washing hands frequently and covering coughs and sneezes with an elbow or tissue.
The health district has more information on coronavirus at delawarehealth.org/covid-19.
Meanwhile, Ohio Wesleyan University has extended spring break and will implement remote classes through April 5 in its efforts to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Classes are canceled Monday, March 16, and Tuesday, March 17, to give faculty time to prepare for remote classes, according to a press release from OWU.
Then, from Wednesday, March 18, through April 5, all classes will be taught remotely -- although that time period could be extended based on changing conditions, according to the press release.
Spring break for OWU students ends March 16, and students will not be allowed to return to campus without permission until in-person classes resume. Students have until 5 p.m. March 16 to leave their residence halls.
All events and spring sports are canceled until at least April 5.
OWU campus offices will remain open, though staff are being asked to work from home if possible.
Students, faculty and staff who traveled during spring break are being asked to complete a travel registry form, the press release said.
The university has set up a website with more information at tinyurl.com/owucovid.
The Delaware County District Library also is taking measures aimed at protecting its patrons.
The library announced March 12 that, following the libraries' regular hours March 16, all four branches would close until April 5. In addition, all library events are canceled until April 5, effective immediately.All due dates for physical materials will be extended to April 13. During this time, patrons are advised to refrain from returning materials or bringing donations of used books and other materials for the Friends of the Library. Additionally, all Friends of the Library events are canceled and will be rescheduled.
Leaders said the coronavirus offers a good opportunity for patrons to familiarize themselves with the library's digital resources, such as e-books, available at delawarelibrary.org.