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Gov. DeWine Says Flu More Dangerous To Ohioans Than Coronavirus

Nurse Nicole Simpson prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta on Feb. 7, 2018.
David Goldman
Nurse Nicole Simpson prepares a flu shot at the Salvation Army in Atlanta on Feb. 7, 2018.

With two Ohio college students being quarantined and monitored for Wuhan coronavirus, the state's top health officials are watching for more possible infections. But Gov. Mike DeWine says there’s another deadly virus that people should be concerned about: influenza.

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus aglobal health emergency. The disease, which originated in China, has spread to several cities in the United States, including Ohio.

Butler County officials are waiting for results from two Miami University students who recently traveled to China, while Ohio State and other schools are restricting travel there “out of an abundance of caution.”

DeWine says Ohio Department of Health director Amy Acton and her staff are on top of the coronavirus situation. But he says it's important not to lose sight of influenza, a more common virus that he says poses a greater threat to Ohioans.

“We lose people,” DeWine says. “People die every single year because of flu.”

This season, the CDC says more than 15 million people in the U.S. have been struck by the flu, with over 150,000 hospitalized and 8,000 killed by their infection so far.

Several Ohio schools have closed during the past couple of weeks to disinfect facilities and allow students and staff who have the flu to recover at home. In Ohio alone, 2,655 people have been hospitalized for flu since the beginning of January.

A flu shot is the best way to protect against the disease. Health experts also recommend washing handsthoroughly to avoid spreading infections.

Airports throughout Ohio are also taking extra precautions to prevent against flu and coronavirus. Ohio health officials have determined a Chicago man who has the virus and traveled to Cleveland in mid-January was not contagious when he made that trip.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.