CIRCLEVILLE — As businesses start to reopen locally, Pickaway County is in a much better place to handle COVID-19 than when the stay-at-home order came about two months ago.

Darrin Flick, Pickaway County Emergency Management Agency director, said overall, Pickaway County has been doing very well.

“Our number of new cases over the past week has dropped off and we are not seeing many new hospitalizations across the county,” Flick mentioned. “Having said that, we are not out of this year, so we still need to practice social distancing and wear masks whenever possible to ensure we do not unknowingly spread this disease. We’re seeing a large majority of cases that never show symptoms; so even though you feel fine, you could unknowingly have the disease and transmit it to others.”

According to Flick, the last two months have allowed the county and local agencies to prepare for more cases that could come as people come into contact with others.

“These two months have allowed us to do a few key things here in the county,” he added. “First of all, we’ve been able to build up our stocks of PPE, most notably our N95 masks that are needed for our healthcare workers and first responders. The Battelle sanitization program where we can get our N95 sanitized has helped tremendously with that.

“Secondly, we’ve been able to refine our plans and processes on how we would deal with a large outbreak so that if we had a number of cases pop up in the county, we would be better prepared on how to handle them. Finally, we’ve had time to learn more about the disease so our medical professionals now have better treatment options and can better manage their patients to provide for better outcomes,” Flick continued.

Flick stated as a result of the preparations, the county is “without a doubt” in a significantly better place to handle other threats in the future.

“The coordination and communication that we have refined throughout this pandemic will be something that we emulate during any disaster in the future,” he commented. “From our morning conference calls with all county leadership and public safety agencies, to the planning teams that we’ve created, to better managing the chaos associated with a disaster, these activities can be applied to any contingency and have done nothing but strengthen the ties between the different governments and agencies across the county.”

Flick remarked it’s been great to see the community come together over the last two months and support one another.

“We’ve had a group of dedicated volunteers who have supported operations in the [Emergency Operations Center] from day one and we have had a number of generous donations from businesses and individuals from across the county,” he explained. “We could not have done this without the help of those groups and the support of the community during this disaster.”

Flick continues to urge that people be cautious, even though things are moving in a direction to return to normal.

“Everyone needs to be careful, continue to wash their hands, social distance as much as possible and wear a mask if they can so that we keep the numbers down as much as we can while we wait for a vaccine,” he concluded.

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