Ohio EMS providers advised to screen patients for coronavirus

The state's medical director instructed providers to ask patients showing certain symptoms whether they've recently traveled to Wuhan, China


Andrew J. Tobias
The Plain Dealer, Cleveland

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s emergency medical responders have been told to screen patients displaying flu-like symptoms for possible exposure to coronavirus.

In a Thursday memo to local EMS providers, Carol Cunningham, the state’s medical director, said first responders should triage patients showing fever, cough and difficulty breathing by asking them if they’ve traveled to Wuhan, China within the past 14 days.

Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton speaks at a Tuesday, Jan. 28 news conference at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She briefed reporters on the status of ongoing testing to a suspected case of coronavirus in a student who recently traveled to China. (Photo/Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland.com)
Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton speaks at a Tuesday, Jan. 28 news conference at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She briefed reporters on the status of ongoing testing to a suspected case of coronavirus in a student who recently traveled to China. (Photo/Andrew J. Tobias, cleveland.com)

“This information should be documented on the patient care report and communicated to the receiving health care facility prior to arrival, the memo reads.

To prevent the spread of the disease, the directive recommends EMTs and paramedics wear protective equipment and clean their vehicles with bleach.

Coronavirus has been traced back to a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus is believed to have jumped from animals to humans. The disease is believed to be contagious through coughing or sneezing, similar to the common flu, and has sickened upwards of 8,000 in China and killed about 140.

There have been at least six confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. Ohio health officials are investigating two possible cases involving two Miami University students who recently returned from China.

State health officials collected samples from the students on Monday and submitted them to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. They said Tuesday testing results could take up to 48 hours.

Officials provided no updates on the status of the investigation on Thursday.

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©2020 The Plain Dealer, Cleveland

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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