First county death linked to COVID-19 recorded

MIAMI COUNTY — Miami County health officials reported the county’s first death likely linked to COVID-19 on Friday.

Miami County Coroner Dr. William Ginn said the male subject, 93, was a resident at Koester Pavilion, a nursing home and rehabilitation center on the Upper Valley Medical Center campus in Troy, owned by Premier Health.

“There is one death, but this person’s test is still pending,” said Miami County Public Health Commissioner Dennis Propes. “It cannot be confirmed as related to COVID-19.”

The male was a former resident of Bethel Township in Clark County. The deceased man’s son, who is 70 years old, was also a resident of Koester Pavilion and was one of two confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. That male was also treated at the Dayton VA Medical Center and is currently in critical condition at Miami Valley Hospital, according to reports.

Ginn said the 93-year-old man had been tested on March 17, but passed away early Friday morning. Test results are still in the process of being confirmed.

Ginn said he’s working closely with the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office, which performs autopsies for Miami County. Ginn said there are specific guidelines to order an autopsy. Ginn said it is likely that most of the COVID-19 cases will not have an autopsy ordered, but the body can be swabbed after death to determine if the virus was present.

On Friday, Miami County Public Health Commissioner Dennis Propes said his department cannot confirm the 93 year old’s death to the virus, but expects results within the next 24-48 hours.

Propes said as of Friday, 32 people now exhibit symptoms of COVID-19, and of those people, 16 are residents of Koester Pavilion, 14 are staff members and two are visitors to the center. Eight of those 32 people are currently hospitalized with conditions that vary from mild and treatable at home, to advanced life support in the Intensive Care Unit.

Propes said 11 people are presumptive positive for the virus and the rest of the tests are pending. Of the 16 residents, five are hospitalized with symptom onset dates of March 11-17. The age range is 53-94 years of age. Eight are male, and eight are female.

Of Koester Pavilion’s 14 staff members, three have been hospitalized with the onset date of between March 9-17. The age range of the staff members is 16-76, with 13 females and one male staff member. The two visitors did not have onset dates or the status of their condition available, Propes said.

“We want to emphasize this is a community spread. We know it is in Ohio and within the community. The community needs to come together and do their part,” Propes said, noting social distancing, washing hands frequently, staying home, especially if sick, and avoiding contact with those who are sick.

Propes said his office is working diligently with Premier Health, Koester Pavilion, Upper Valley Medical Center and the Ohio Department of Heath to identify anyone who has been in contact with anyone testing positive for COVID-19.

India Chrisman-Williams, the regional vice-president of operations for AdCare Health Systems, the managing group for Koester Pavilion, said the staff has followed every regulation, direction and protocol “to the tee.”

“We are doing everything we can to protect our residents and staff,” she said.

“We are very blessed to have a very strong medical system and the components our system locally — the physicians, the nurses — the responded to the challenges in an admirable manner. They’ve stepped up to the challenge like every community is going to have to do.”

Propes also said while most Covid-19 cases are mild, it’s very infectious and those who are 60 years old or older and those with long term medical conditions, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, are at higher risk of developing severe symptoms. Younger people are potential carriers of COVID-19 and could pass it along to older people and they can also become ill as well.

Propes addressed discriminatory reports of vendors not delivering to the Koester Pavilion and businesses refusing the facility’s employees service.

“I expected better from Miami County in the state of Ohio,” Propes said. “This is an extremely difficult, complex situation. These fine men and women are doing everything they can to contain this situation, and by taking actions like that, you are making it much more stressful and difficult for them to do their job, to take care of our parents, our grandparents and give them the care they need. I would highly suggest those companies and those individuals and businesses to re-evaluate the decisions and the choices they’ve made and open to the community. Now is the time to come together. Now is not the time to cower in fear. It’s a very unfortunate event.”

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India Chrisman-Williams of Koester Pavilion speaks during a press conference at the Upper Valley Medical Center campus on Friday. Chrisman-Williams of Koester Pavilion speaks during a press conference at the Upper Valley Medical Center campus on Friday. Mike Ullery | Miami Valley Sunday News

Miami County Public Health Commissioner Dennis Propes addresses the media during a Friday press conference on the Upper Valley Medical Center campus. County Public Health Commissioner Dennis Propes addresses the media during a Friday press conference on the Upper Valley Medical Center campus. Mike Ullery | Miami Valley Sunday News
32 total people now suspected; 11 presumptive positive