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Curious Cbus: Answering Your Questions About Coronavirus In Ohio

A man walks past a closed business Wednesday, April 29, 2020, in Shaker Heights, Ohio.
Tony Dejak
Associated Press
A man walks past a closed business Wednesday, April 29, 2020, in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

As part of WOSU’s ongoing COVID-19 coverage, we asked listeners to share their questions with us about the illness and Ohio's response. Now we have some answers.

Where can the general public get masks?

This isn’t an easy one. Masks are in short supply because of heightened demand, and amid a weeks-long stay at home order, shopping around isn’t much of an option.

Grocery stores like Giant Eagle and Kroger had no masks. One employee noted they hadn’t had any since March. Saraga on the North Side recently had some masks available in their checkout aisles.

Drug stores are probably a better bet. When I called around, two out of three CVS locations had masks in stock.

(Question asked by Jacqueline Emch.)

What resources are available for single parents if they become ill?

One of the most troubling aspects of COVID-19 has been the precipitous decline seen in some patients. As a single parent, this question asker was worried about how their child would be cared for if that happened to them. Franklin County Job and Family Services spokesman Bart Logan explains the first step is to designate a caregiver.

“They should look to a trusted friend, relative or coworker who is not a high-risk of contracting COVID-19,” Logan says. “And they should begin having those conversations today and designate a caregiver while they are still healthy. Hopefully they never have to use them.”

Franklin County Children Services has more information available to help parents who need it.

(Question asked by Meredith Carr.)

Some people were buried in mass graves in New York City. Could that happen here?

Luckily, Franklin County has more than enough capacity to avoid that happening here. County Coroner Anahi Ortiz explains hospital morgues have capacity for about 100, and the county morgue has room for another 60.

"If this system is close to capacity, we would arrange for refrigerated trucks to hold decedents 'til they could be released to funeral homes,” Ortiz wrote in an email. “If these become overwhelmed quickly or are not sufficient, we would arrange for a site like the hospitals are doing with the Convention Center. This site would hold the deceased till funeral home are able to arrange for them.”

(Question asked by anonymous.)

How do you become one of the people doing contact tracing, and can I participate?

Columbus Public Health is relying on its existing staff to manage the task of tracking down those who have come in contact with people who test positive for COVID-19. Presently, they have all the staff they need, but a spokeswoman suggested people who would like to help should reach out to the Ohio Department of Health at 833-ASK-4-ODH.

This particular question asker actually lives in Cuyahoga County, so we got in touch with their board of health as well. Spokesman Kevin Brennan explains that, like Columbus, they have all the help they need right now. The department is planning to set up an email address, though, to gather a list of people who would like to help in the event that they need additional support.

“We want to put out that email address to people so they can let us know if they’re interested, give us a little information about their background and if and when the need arises for us to enhance our surveillance team, we would then begin to contact those people to gauge their interest and make sure that their abilities match up with what we’re looking for,” Brennan says.

Cuyahoga County health officials haven’t set up that email address quite yet, but Brennan says they’re hoping for some time this week. Also, with most if not all contact tracing happening over the phone, health departments in other counties might need help as well.

(Question asked by anonymous.)

When will antibody tests become widely available for those who want to see if they were infected?

The Ohio Department of Health began a widespread testing program Monday. That serological testing searches for antibodies in the blood plasma.

(Question asked by David L. Johnson.)

How many people do we know of that have gotten sick and then recovered?

Ohio does not have those data on hand, but Department of Health director Dr. Amy Acton says it’s not for lack of trying. She explains the issue is that with a wide array of different affects from the virus, it’s hard to nail down a definition for people who have recovered.

“So that definition of recovered has been tricky,” Acton said in a press briefing last week. “It’s something we will eventually have and will eventually have better data on, but I just want you to know we’re working on that, it’s not something we’re hiding. It’s just a complex thing to quantify.”

Meanwhile, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering have been trying to model recovery. They don’t have cases split by state, but as of Monday they reported slightly more than 180,000 recoveries around the U.S.

(Question asked by Mike Hodge.)

Ask Your Own Question

WOSU wants to hear from more Ohioans. What questions do you have about the coronavirus in Ohio, or about the state's response to the crisis?

Submit your question below, and WOSU may investigate for a future story.


Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.