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Officials stress hand washing: Arnold Classic restricted because of coronavirus

With the number of coronavirus cases increasing in the United States, health officials are urging people not to panic, but to take simple precautions such as washing hands properly and avoiding sick people. And in Columbus, the annual Arnold Sports Festival has limited the number of people allowed in because of fears of spreading the disease.

The Lawrence County Health Department said in a Facebook posting that cases are increasing and many people are concerned. But there have been no confirmed cases in Ohio and one person who showed symptoms is being monitored by health officials.

Because the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is new, there is a lot that health officials don’t know yet.

“What we do know is this: it is a respiratory illness that causes mild to severe symptoms that include fever, cough and shortness of breath,” the Lawrence County Health Department said, adding that many people may not know if they have it since it feels like they might have the flu and will self-treat at home.

The hardest hit seems to be the elderly who already have underlying health problems.

“The most important thing we have learned from outbreaks, pandemics and other public health issues is to remain calm and not panic,” the health department said, adding that the best thing to do to prevent getting the virus is the same as flu and other disease prevention. That includes washing hands frequently and using hand sanitizer when soap and water aren’t available, don’t touch eyes, nose or mouth, cough or sneeze into your sleeve or a tissue, stay at home when ill and avoid contact with sick people, clean and disinfect highly-touched areas frequently.

On Thursday, the EPA released a list of antimicrobial products that have been found to be effective in killing viruses in the past and many are bleached based.

“Coronaviruses are enveloped viruses, meaning they are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product,” the EPA said.

“EPA works closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to identify and address emerging pathogens. EPA’s policy will allow both agencies to address COVID-19 in a timely manner, and EPA and CDC will continue to closely monitor developments,” the EPA said. “Based on what we know right now, the immediate risk to America is low.”

The complete list is available at epa.gov.

Also on Thursday, Ohio Health Department Director Dr. Amy Acton issued an order that limited the spectators to only parents of the participants who are minors at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s annual Arnold Sports Festival this weekend.

Officials had asked, because of the possibility of spreading the coronavirus, that spectators not be allowed into the two-day event, which includes the Arnold Classic, Arnold Men’s Physique, Bikini International and Arnold Strongman Classic Finals, and Classic Physique, Fitness International, Figure International and Women’s Physique Finals. On Wednesday, Schwarzenegger had said the event would go on as normal.

The state was concerned because the event brings in 20,000 people from over 80 countries.

Promoters said they would abide by the order, even though they felt they were being unfairly singled out from other sporting events that draw large crowds.

As of Thursday morning, according to the CDC, there were 99 total cases in the U.S. in 13 states.

There have been 10 deaths.