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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

Summit County Judge Under Coronavirus Quarantine

Updated: 4:30 p.m., Monday, March 2, 2020

Summit County health officials have changed course and placed a Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge under official quarantine.

Judge Alison McCarty recently traveled to Italy and spent time with her daughter, who is now ill in Paris, said Leanne Beavers, Clinical Director of the county health department.

"After consultation with the Ohio Department of Health regarding the individual situation, the decision was made to recommend quarantine," Beavers said.

Earlier on Monday, county health officials said the judge had decided to self-quarantine after returning from Italy, where there are several hundred reported cases of the coronavirus and multiple deaths.

McCarty contacted Summit County Public Health officials early Monday after she and her husband returned to the United States late Sunday night. While vacationing in Venice, they began to notice that people in that country were testing positive for the coronavirus, McCarty told ideastream Monday afternoon.

McCarty began to wash her hands more frequently and started to wear gloves when out in public in Italy about a week ago, she said.

"When we hit the U.S. yesterday, we were in Philadelphia, the news was everywhere and it was all about coronavirus," she said.

McCarty's daughter, Grace McCarty, returned to her home in Paris after vacationing with her parents in Italy about a week ago. She informed her mother that she was not feeling well, and that she was being quarantined by officials in France. That revelation prompted McCarty to call the Summit County health officials first thing Monday morning before going to work at the county courthouse.

Initially, Summit County officials said there are no directives at this time from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention requiring people returning from Italy to be quarantined. However, the decision was made later in the day to officially monitor the judge for about two weeks, Beavers said.

McCarty spoke with her daughter by phone Monday afternoon and Grace is feeling fine and does not have a fever, McCarty said. A fever is one of the indications of coronavirus, according to health officials.

Still, her daughter has been ordered her to stay home for two weeks, McCarthy said. Tom McCarty, the judge's husband, was also asked not to come into work for 14 days. The couple will be monitored by health officials and will take their temperature twice a day, the judge said.

The coronavirus outbreak in the United States so far is fluid and decisions about who must be quarantined may change based on new information, Summit County officials said.

Monitoring and Preparing Locally

The CDC has taken the lead in monitoring and testing possible coronavirus cases in the United States. The federal agency coordinates with state health departments to help monitor people who could possibly be infected with the virus.

ODH is using its website as the primary way of communicating with the public and the media on the status or coronavirus case in the state. There are more than  200 people in Ohio currently under public health supervision who have traveled recently and were referred to ODH for monitoring, but are not showing signs of the virus, according to the health department.

There are no confirmed cases in Ohio at this time and seven people have tested negative for the virus.

Nationally, there are 91 confirmed cases of the respiratory illness, the novel coronavirus, in 10 different states. Six people have died as of Monday afternoon.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend the same measures that limit any virus, from washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to coughing in elbows and avoiding handshakes. The CDC says it "does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19."

COVID-19's most common symptoms include fever, shortness of breath and a dry cough, the  World Health Organization says. And in most cases, people don't develop a serious illness.

"Most patients [80 percent] experienced mild illness," the World Health Organization said in a recent update on the coronavirus. "Approximately 14 percent experienced severe disease and 5 percent were critically ill."

There are currently about 90,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the world. Of that number, slightly more than half — nearly 45,400 people — have recovered from the virus. But more than 3,000 people have died.

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