Local Officials Prepare for Surge of Virus Cases

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Local officials are using technology to communicate how the Mahoning Valley is preparing for a surge in coronavirus cases and reiterate health officials’ advice on safety

Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler has started Facebook Live briefings on how the county is preparing for projected surge in cases.

Monday evening, Ditzler said 371 beds are occupied at Mercy Health-Youngstown hospitals in Youngstown and Boardman. He said 81 of the admissions to Mercy are being treated for COVID-19, the disease spread by coronavirus. He added that 229 beds are available in Mahoning County.

“We have accessibility, but we have the Covelli Centre as a satellite site for overflow,” Ditzler said.  

It was announced Monday that the Covelli Centre will be used as a field hospital, with room for up to 250 patients in recovery from COVID-19. Mercy Health will provide staff, while the Ohio National Guard and Army Corps of Engineers will handle construction, operations and teardown.

Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said he and the Trumbull County Emergency Operations Center are looking at temporary sites in his city to house overflow patients, as traveling to downtown Youngstown may not be feasible in some cases.

Jim Pantalone, Howland Fire Chief and commander of the Emergency Operations Center, said refrigerator trailers have been brought in for a possible need if death tolls rise.

“Our hope is that it won’t be needed,” Pantalone said.

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton commended hospital frontline staff at Salem Regional Hospital, East Liverpool City Hospital, Mercy Health, Trumbull Memorial Hospital for its response to the outbreak at what she termed a congregate site. 

“This was the first test our zoned approach for regional hospital zones. Some of the new ways we were able to help was to bring in Summa [Health-Akron], Cleveland Clinic and Trinity [Hospital], and all of them are working collectively so no one hospital is overwhelmed,” Acton said. “I’m proud and optimistic as to how we are responding. This is exactly what we want to see is balancing the stress on our hospital systems.”

“Our social distancing has had an impact and we’re showing promising numbers [in modeling numbers], but there will still be a surge,” Acton said.

Staying at home, practicing social distancing and wearing a mask when going out for essential needs is making a difference to take pressure off of hospital systems, but Acton urges people not to stop.

“What you are doing is making a difference but we can’t let up because the second we let up it unravels and we’ll need tremendous hospital capacity,” she said. 

State officials also reminded Ohioans that Tuesday night, additional restrictions take effect on essential businesses.

Stores must determine and post maximum capacity of customers allowed to enter and maintain 6 feet of separation. All baskets and shopping carts must be cleaned after each use. Businesses found to be in violation face a misdemeanor charge, $750 fine and possible jail time.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.