By SARA ARTHURS
After the COVID-19-related death of a resident at Mennonite Memorial Home in Bluffton, Allen County Public Health would say only that, in general, when there is a confirmed case it follows up with all close contacts.
Mennonite Memorial Home announced in a press release Wednesday that a resident had tested positive for COVID-19. This individual was sent to a hospital and subsequently died.
The press release also states the retirement community continues to follow the guidance and protocols set by the Allen County Health Department to contain further spread of the virus.
The facility said in the press release it had taken these additional steps:
N95 masks are being used by all nursing staff.
Temperatures are being taken for all staff twice daily.
Temperatures are being taken for all residents every shift, and they are being monitored for symptoms of respiratory illness.
COVID-19 testing is being requested for all elders who have respiratory symptoms.
The Courier emailed Allen County Public Health on Thursday and asked what the health department would be doing next, whether it had given any direction to Mennonite Memorial Home to do anything differently, whether it was doing contact tracing, and seeking any additional information the department could share about the procedures in place.
Public Information Officer Tami Gough emailed back a statement talking about COVID-19 cases in Allen County in general terms. It states in part: “After receiving notification of a COVID-19 case in Allen County, Allen County Public Health conducts contact tracing. ACPH follows up with all close contacts of a confirmed case of COVID-19. Contacts with symptoms are asked about additional persons that they have been in contact with, and are instructed to self-isolate for 14 days. Contacts without symptoms are asked to self-quarantine for 14 days and monitor their temperature and symptoms, which are reported to ACPH daily.”
Allen County Public Health also declined to give information about the age or gender of the deceased, saying it is considered protected health information and could not be released without the subject’s written consent. The health department also provided a news release dated April 3, explaining how, in general, it would “not be sharing demographic or health status information about individual cases.”
In a press release dated Monday and provided on the health department’s Twitter account Tuesday, Allen County Public Health Commissioner Kathy Luhn announced the first death of a county resident, a 92-year-old male.
“First, our thoughts are with the individual’s family,” Luhn said. “Sadly, however, these outcomes are expected as we continue to face a serious public health challenge. … I want to make the community aware that we are starting to see deaths from COVID-19 — that is the take-away for community members.”
It is not clear whether this first death that was reported was the same death reported by Mennonite Memorial Home. However, Gov. Mike DeWine’s figures released Thursday afternoon indicated there had been one Allen County death.