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SLIDESHOW: How one northwest Ohio hospital is responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak

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COLDWATER, Ohio (WPTA21) - One Northwest Ohio hospital is using military surplus tents to prepare for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients.

Out behind the Mercer County Joint Township Community Hospital in Coldwater, Ohio, they've set up military surplus medical tents in the parking lot.

They intend to use the space to treat overflow patients.

The tent appears to be broken up into three sections, but they all join in the middle.

Celina Public Works employees began erecting the tents Tuesday near the emergency room in the rear.

The tents are the property of the Celina Ohio police department.

Police obtained the unused tents from the US military last year at no cost to taxpayers, as surplus items and then turned them over to the hospital.

The police chief thinks it could provide space to pre-screen and possibly treat patients in case of a huge influx from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"They'll keep the respiratory patients to one side, keep them away from everybody else, that way they are lessening the chance of transferring the virus to unaffected persons," Coldwater Police Chief Tom Wale said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Ohio reported 704 cases of the novel coronavirus and 10 deaths.

Mercer County currently has one case.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel, or new, coronavirus that has not been previously identified. It is not the same as the type of coronavirus that causes the common cold.

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing;
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands; and
  • Rarely, fecal contamination.

Many people who acquire COVID-19 will have mild symptoms, can self-isolate and do not need to be tested. Older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness. The best way to protect yourself is to:

  • Stay home and follow social distancing guidelines regularly updated by the state of Indiana.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Anyone with a fever of 100 degrees F AND a cough should first call their healthcare provider to discuss their symptoms and determine the next course of action. 

Coronavirus resources

  • Click here for the latest CDC novel coronavirus resources and links.
  • Track the COVID-19 globally using this map tracker here.
  • You can view the latest Indiana COVID-19 numbers here.
  • Track Ohio's coronavirus numbers here.
  • You can catch up on the latest ABC21 coronavirus coverage here.
  • Sign up here for the latest local, state and national news regarding COVID-19.
  • Click here to sign up for ABC21 News and Weather Alerts

Kayla Crandall

Kayla Crandall is an Emmy award-winning journalist. She serves as the Social Media and Digital Content Manager at WPTA. Follow her on Twitter @KaylerJayne.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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