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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.

Hamilton County Health Officials Say Actions Are Helping Control COVID-19

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Hamilton County health officials say closures and social distancing measures are beginning to flatten the curve of new COVID-19 cases around the state.

Interim County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman, during a Wednesday press briefing, said that will eventually happen locally, too.

"Once again, the things that we are doing here in Hamilton County will have an impact and we are seeing that impact," Kesterman said. "We're still seeing spikes of cases and we're still seeing things increase. But it's our hard work here in Hamilton County that is making a difference."

As of 2 p.m. Wednesday, there were 437 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county, and of those, 81 were hospitalized. There have been 13 death in Hamilton County.

Kesterman said the local health department is relying on the Ohio Department of Health for modeling data about "the peak." He said the metrics involve new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

"We're learning more each day; never in a pandemic have we had the ability to have this much data," Kesterman said. "And so, the models that the Department of Health and others have put together are very accurate."

County officials again said residents should stay at home unless a trip out is essential.  They caution against leaving your home to overcome boredom. 

They also suggest that trips to stores be combined into one day, instead of going to different stores over different days.

Kesterman is also encouraging families not to gather this month for Passover, Easter or Ramadan. He said families should not gather this year as they have in the past.

He said if your family does decide such a get together is necessary, he suggests meeting outside and following social distancing guidelines.

"The truth is not everyone that has COVID-19 shows symptoms" Kesterman said. "So, if one family is positive with COVID-19, it is still possible to spread it to another family and if we're ignoring those social distancing requirements, then ultimately we are making others sick."

He said organized egg hunts this weekend are a bad idea, even if those sponsoring the events think they can provide adequate social distancing.

Kesterman was also asked when someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 is allowed to be out in public or return to work. 

"The general rule of thumb is when you have COVID-19, you're not to go back to work or be in public until seven days from the onset of symptoms, and three days from the day your symptoms stop showing themselves," Kesterman said. "So, if you had a fever, three days after that fever subsides, it's OK to go back in public as long as it's been a full week from the time that you first got sick."

He said local health departments are communicating that information to affected patients.

Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.