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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 Department Waiting On Reopening Guidelines

hobby lobby coronavirus
Courtesy of Jason Whitman
A lone goose sits in an empty Hobby Lobby parking lot in the wake of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, Sunday, April 5, 2020, in Cincinnati.

Local health departments in Ohio are still waiting on guidelines from the state on what businesses can reopen May 1, and what additional safety measures they'll need to implement. 

Interim Hamilton County Health Commissioner Greg Kesterman said he doesn't have a crystal ball and can't say what businesses will be allowed to reopen first. He's also not sure what those safety measures will be.

"The more we are together, the more people have the ability to spread COVID-19," Kesterman said. "(Ohio Health Department) Director (Amy) Acton accurately described the way we're bringing business back on as a dimmer switch. We're going to slowly start to bring in the businesses that we think can safely occur, and we're going to do so in a way that will keep people safe and ensure that we have hospital capacity for those that do become ill."

Kesterman said his team will be monitoring once things start to come back.

"As we see little spikes in illness throughout the county at various businesses, nursing homes or other locations, my team will begin to do that contact tracing and education to make sure that as many people that could have been impacted are isolated, and so that we don't see a significant spread of COVID-19 as we begin to do this great work of opening Ohio back up," he said.

Kesterman is also calling for more testing for people who don't necessarily have moderate to severe symptoms. 

But he said more testing will only tell people that they do or do not have the virus. He's said it will not provide reassurance that a person won't get it or may be already been exposed to it without having symptoms.

Kesterman said the reopening will need to include frequent handwashing, covering your cough and staying home if you are sick.

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.