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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Ohio State Has Long Studied Coronavirus, Says 'Not To Panic'

Ohio State University
Researcher Scott Kenney has been studying a cousin of the most recent coronavirus.

For decades, Ohio State University researchers have been studying different strains of the coronavirus and were not surprised there was another outbreak.

Assistant Professor Scott Kenney, with the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences, published a paper last month on a different form of the virus and how it can spread among chickens.

He says once a decade, we see a major crossover of the coronavirus to humans. Kenney says it's happened three times in the last 30 years, including SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome).

He says scientists have to be vigilant in monitoring the coronavirus strains before they become a health emergency. Kenney says given time, the various forms may mutate into a virulent form.

But he encourages people not to panic and anticipates in about four months researchers will develop a vaccine for this most recent outbreak. "If this does become a global problem we'll have something similar to - I don't want to say the flu vaccine - but you'll have a vaccine that everyone can get and be protected against these coronaviruses."

However, like the flu shot, he says it won't protect against all strains.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.