Lucas County public health officials confirmed the first death caused by COVID-19 in Ohio on Friday, the same day the Defiance County General Health District announced the first confirmed case there.
The death in Lucas County was that of Mark Wagoner Sr., a 76-year-old man who had recently traveled to California before being admitted to St. Luke’s Hospital in Maumee for an unrelated matter on March 13, according to the Toledo Blade. Wagoner is the father of the Lucas County Republican Party Chair.
Meanwhile, in Defiance County, the local health department said it is currently working to identify any close contacts of a resident confirmed to have COVID-19. Those individuals may require testing or monitoring for symptoms of the disease, a news release informed.
“These individuals will be instructed to self-quarantine and will be monitored for 14 days,” said Jamie Gerken, Defiance County health commissioner, in a prepared statement. “Our focus right now is to support the care of this individual and protect the health of our residents.”
Later on Friday, Defiance County Commissioners declared the county to be in a state of emergency.
As of 2 p.m. Friday, Ohio had 169 confirmed cases of coronavirus statewide in 28 counties including 39 hospitalizations and now one death.
According to the Ohio Department of Health, counties with confirmed cases include: Ashland (1), Ashtabula (1), Belmont (2), Butler (12), Clark (1), Coshocton (2), Cuyahoga (69), Darke (1), Delaware (2), Franklin (14), Geauga (1), Hamilton (7), Huron (1), Lake (3), Lorain (10), Lucas (2), Mahoning (7), Marion (1), Medina (6), Miami (1), Montgomery (1), Richland (1), Stark (6), Summit (10), Trumbull (3), Tuscarawas (1), Union (1) and Warren (2).
There have not been any lab-confirmed cases in Williams County as of Friday morning, according to Williams County Health Department officials.
“The news of a COVID-19 case in county (Defiance) is not a surprise as we know there is community spread in Ohio,” said Gerken. “We have community interventions in place that are designed to slow transmission in our community while lessening the impact. Our investigation is ongoing. Our main goal is to isolate those who are ill, identify close contacts and monitor for illness.”
In contrast, Lucas County took a moment to mourn.
“Public Health extends our deepest condolences to the patient’s loved ones in the wake of this tragedy,” said Eric Zgodzinski, Toledo-Lucas County Health Department commissioner.
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can cause mild to severe respiratory illness.
Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and difficulty breathing, often appearing within 14 days of exposure, spreading through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Those at high risk for illness of COVID-19 are those over age 60 with chronic illness or a weakened immune system.
To avoid spreading the virus, officials in Defiance County advised basic health principle like regularly washing hands, as well as practicing social distancing by avoiding gatherings and remaining six feet from others, especially avoiding contact with sick people.