Although a staff member at New Albany Early Learning Center has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, anyone who had attended school or worked there recently does not need to be alarmed, according to New Albany-Plain Local Schools Superintendent Michael Sawyers.

The coronavirus requires close contact for transmission, he said.

Just before 6 p.m. March 24, Franklin County Public Health officials notified New Albany-Plain Local leaders the staff member tested positive for coronavirus, Sawyers said.

New Albany leaders informed residents of the community’s first confirmed positive COVID-19 test in an email sent later in the evening March 24.

“The school district provided a notice to all families in our school district to protect the safety and welfare of everyone,” the city email said. “Since not all New Albany residents have students in our schools, we are sharing this information to try to make sure all New Albany residents know.”

Franklin County Public Health will reach out confidentially to students or employees who might have legitimate risk of contracting the virus based on close contact with the staff member, Sawyers said. Families or employees should expect to be contacted within 48 to 72 hours, he said.

Sawyers said residents should continue staying at home in accordance with the state’s public-health order announced by Gov. Mike DeWine on March 22 and adhere to social-distancing recommendations.

Community members should monitor themselves for symptoms, and if they suspect they have contracted the virus, their first action should be to reach out to their health-care providers immediately, Sawyers said.

The city’s March 24 email, which was signed by Mayor Sloan Spalding and City Manager Joseph Stefanov, said symptoms of the coronavirus are a fever above 100.4 degrees, a cough and shortness of breath.

The district also will sanitize its buildings as an additional safeguard, Sawyers said.

Sawyers said Ohio Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton has articulated “community spread” of the coronavirus is occuring. Because some people likely have the virus and are unaware, community members need to follow the state’s directives to stay at home and practice social distancing and other safeguards.

“Unfortunately, I think this is just the beginning,” he said.

ThisWeek editor Neil Thompson contributed to this story.

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@ThisWeekSarah

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March 24 story:

By NEIL THOMPSON

A staff member at the New Albany Early Learning Center has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to an email sent to residents Tuesday evening, March 24, by the city of New Albany.

"As part of the city’s commitment to keep you informed and up to date, we want to share with you that we have our first confirmed community case of COVID-19," the email said. "The New Albany-Plain Local School District was notified this evening that a staff member has tested positive. This staff member works at the Early Learning Center. The school district provided a notice to all families in our school district to protect the safety and welfare of everyone. Since not all New Albany residents have students in our schools, we are sharing this information to try to make sure all New Albany residents know."

The email, which was signed by Mayor Sloan Spalding and City Manager Joseph Stefanov, said Franklin County Public Health will contact parents and guardians of any child and any staff member who might have had direct contact with the staff member.

Residents were encouraged to self-monitor for signs and symptoms of the coronavirus, which are a fever above 100.4 degrees, a cough and shortness of breath.

They email said before taking any other actions, residents should contact their health-care providers if they have concerns or believe they have coronavirus symptoms.

"Whether you are sick or not, please remember to maintain proper social distancing for yourself, your family and your neighbors," the email said. "This self-distancing is absolutely critical to reduce the potential of COVID-19 spread for you and your entire family."

Read the full text of the email or go to newalbanyohio.org for more information.

This story will be updated at ThisWeekNEWS.com/NewAlbany.

nthompson@thisweeknews.com

@TWNeilThompson