First Instance of COVID-19 Community Spread Confirmed in Stark County

This announcement comes only hours after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.


(Image via the Centers for Disease Control)

Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV.

By Megan Parker, Editor-in-Chief

One person is in isolation at Mercy Medical Center in Canton after testing positive for the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), bringing the total number of cases in Ohio to four.

This is the first confirmed case of community spread as the patient, a 53-year-old male, did not travel outside of the United States and had minimal contact with members of the community.

“This is a positive case from Stark County, with no history of travel outside the U.S. and no known contact with someone else with the disease COVID-19… that is the definition of community spread,” Dr. Amy Acton,
director of health for the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), said.

Hours prior to the news of Ohio’s fourth COVID-19 case, the World Health Organization (WHO)
officially declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, as it has impacted at least 114 countries.

Canton Health Commissioner James Adams believes the individual had limited contact within the community and those who had contact are currently being investigated for COVID-19.

“We are working closely with the Ohio Department of Health, following protocols and guidance in place, to identify close contacts of this individual who will be instructed to self-quarantine, and public health will monitor for 14 days,” Adams said.

Ohio health officials expect more cases of COVID-19 and evidence of community spread within the coming days. Currently, there are 24 persons under investigation in Ohio.

During the
March 11 press conference, Gov. Mike DeWine said an order regarding large gatherings and events in Ohio will be released within the next few days.

“Ohioans have to understand what the facts are,” Gov. DeWine said. “The facts are any gathering of people in close proximity to each other is dangerous.”

The first
three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio were announced by Ohio Gov. DeWine on March 9, just two days after testing for the virus became available in Ohio.

“It’s hard to get our heads around that we know we are going to have a couple tough months ahead,” Dr. Acton said. “But we will get to the other side of that. I think it’s really important to say that.”