SIDNEY – Fears of the new coronavirus have caused local pharmacies to run out of hand sanitizers and facial masks, and businesses of all kinds have increased precautions as they attempt to slow the spread of the virus.
Alison Haas, a pharmacist and owner of Jackson Pharmacy & Wellness Center in Jackson Center, said her business ran out of both hand sanitizers and facial masks earlier this week. Manufacturers indicated the pharmacy might get some next month, Haas said, but she thinks that’s unlikely as hospitals and health care workers likely will receive available supplies.
“I think that’s pretty unlikely,” she said. “I don’t anticipate them becoming readily available (to the public) any time soon.”
Bunny’s Pharmacy in Sidney ran out of masks a couple weeks ago and ran out of hand sanitizer last weekend, Pharmacist Greg Bonnoront said.
“There’s no delivery date,” Bonnoront said of supplies of masks and hand sanitizers. “It’s ordered, but there’s no delivery date.”
Customers’ response to the coronavirus has been similar to the response to the H1N1 virus in 2009, Bonnoront said.
“It’s been a fairly steady stream, handful of folks a day asking for things we don’t have,” he said.
According to a corporate press release, Walmart has announced it is diverting cleaning supplies and other items that are in high demand to areas around the nation where they are most needed. The release also stated that store managers are authorized to limit sales quantities on items that are in unusually high demand.
Locally, store managers from both Walmart and Kroger declined to comment, referring requests to their corporate offices.
Food pantry Agape Distribution announced it will remain open for regular business hours – 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m.-noon Saturday – unless mandated by government or health officials.
If Agape is forced to institute an emergency service plan, it would box up groceries and deliver them to cars in the parking lot instead of allowing individuals to enter the building. Groceries would continue to be available, but individuals wouldn’t have a choice in selecting them.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced limitations for visitors to nursing homes and assisted living facilities in the state, only allowing one person to visit a resident per day.
Melissa Dardinger, corporate manager of public relations for Ohio Living, said its facilities including Ohio Living Dorothy Love in Sidney are abiding by the one visitor rule. Dorothy Love and other Ohio Living facilities will accept visitors from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and all visitors will need to be screened.
“We’re asking them to stay for only 15 minutes, which will help limit the foot traffic in those areas,” Dardinger said. “We ask them to sign in and out at the nurses’ station. They are getting their temperature taken. They are asked a series of screening questions, and then they are asked to wash their hands in a nearby bathroom before entering the units.”
Ohio Living has 12 communities throughout Ohio and serves 48 counties with home health and hospice. Three Ohio Living facilities, near locations where people have tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, have completely suspended visitations.
“It’s difficult to not see your loved ones, but they are grateful that steps are being taken to protect their health and safety,” Dardinger said.
Recognizing it’s important for residents and their families to be able to connect, Dardinger said, Ohio Living facilities are getting tablets that will allow residents to make video calls through applications such as FaceTime and Skype.
“It’s so important for people to have that continuing contact with their loved ones,” she said.
On Wednesday, Dorothy Love hosted a meeting with officials from other local skilled nursing facilities, assisted living providers, Wilson Health, EMS providers, fire departments, police departments and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office to review protocols, procedures and plans for current situations and in the event of a diagnosed case.
“Ohio Living Dorothy Love was really trying to lead the way and bring people together to collaborate and plan for any future realities,” Dardinger said.
For more than a week, Dorothy Love has increased its infection control procedures by monitoring residents, promoting hand washing, disinfecting common areas and surfaces, and making tissues and hand sanitizer available among other actions.
Ohio Living facilities haven’t had any hand sanitizer shortages and are working with suppliers to ensure they continue to have enough supplies.
“Everyone at Ohio Living is working hard on the procedures to keep people safe,” Dardinger said. “As hard as these precautions and recommendations from the governor’s office might be, that’s our No. 1 priority.”
For the general public, Haas is encouraging people to practice good hygiene.
“We’re just encouraging people that hand washing is the most important thing they can do,” the Jackson Pharmacy & Wellness Center owner said.
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