What You Need to Know About the Coronavirus

Firelands Implementing Tents on Main Campus

Updated on March 26, 2020

Firelands Regional Health System is working hard to prepare for the anticipated coronavirus (COVID-19) surge. In the event of a surge, in order to handle a large number of patients at a time, Firelands will be setting up tents around the main campus. This tent system will help to alleviate the flow during an influx of patients in a potential surge. Our Hospital Incident Command Staff will utilize the tent system in order to triage patients through the Emergency Room in an efficient manner so they may be treated appropriately.

It is our intention, at the health system, to operate efficiently in order to serve our patients. The public should not be alarmed when they see tents around main campus, as this is a precautionary measure. Know that our associates are working around the clock to prepare for COVID-19 as it enters our community. The outpouring of support from the surrounding community has been overwhelmingly positive.

Updated Visitor Limitations

Updated on March 20, 2020

Starting this morning, Friday, March 20, Firelands is temporarily limiting all visitors in concern for COVID-19. This is a preventive measure the health system is taking to protect our patients, their families and our employees. Exceptions include end of life situations, maternity, and patients under 18 years of age. The team at Firelands is overwhelmingly grateful for the support and understanding from the surrounding community.

Firelands on Between the Lines.

Updated on March 18, 2020

Take a moment during your day of social distancing to hear a message from our Chief Executive Officer, Jeremy Normington-Slay and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Scott Campbell on the Sandusky Register's Between the Lines.

Virus Testing in Erie County.

Updated on March 17, 2020

Coronavirus (COVID-19) testing kits are severely limited at this time and are unnecessary for those with mild/moderate illness. Until more testing is available, Erie County facilities will prioritize severe cases and inpatients, as they have the most need. If your symptoms are mild or moderate and you are hoping to be tested, please do not come in for testing. This puts you and your family at risk. This also puts our healthcare workers and their families at risk. The most appropriate course of action is to stay at home.

Please stay informed by keeping up-to-date with the Erie County Health Department and the Ohio Department of Health in the coming weeks. 

A letter from your leaders.

Updated on March 16, 2020

The Erie County Health Department and Firelands Regional Health System are working around the clock to keep our community as safe as possible from Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Currently, our interest is to protect our employees and our patients to ensure the health care system does not become overwhelmed. At this time, we are asking all citizens to stay at home and follow home isolation guidelines instead of seeking medical care via the emergency room, hospital, or urgent care. It is recommended that patients call their family doctor or utilize tele-health platforms, such as Firelands Virtual Care, if they are in need of non-emergency services. If someone is extremely ill with the COVID-19 symptoms, then we advise you to seek medical care after speaking with your health care provider or health department. If transport to ER is necessary, please notify EMS/Fire of your symptoms so they can be prepared to protect against community spread. 

The COVID-19 is a highly contagious respiratory illness characterized by a fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  These symptoms are very similar to many other illnesses. You only need to seek medical advice if you develop symptoms AND have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19. 

If you think you are sick, STAY HOME, except to get medical care! You should restrict activities outside your home, except for getting medical care. If you are sick, avoid public areas, do not go to work or school. Avoid public transportation including ride-share or taxis. Stay away from others as much as possible. People who are mildly ill with COVID-19 are able to isolate at home during their illness. Stay in a specific room and away from other people in your household to practice social distancing. If possible, use a separate bathroom.If you have a medical appointment, call the office before the appointment and tell them of your symptoms. This will help the healthcare provider’s office take steps to keep other people from getting infected or exposed. 

Follow everyday precautions to prevent illness such as washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes, cover coughs/sneezes with your arm, avoid contact with those who are sick, stay home if you are ill, and properly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces.


Peter Schade, MPH, RS, Health Commissioner at the Erie County Health Department

Jeremy Normington-Slay, DPT, MBA, FACHE, President and Chief Executive Officer at Firelands Regional Health System

Visitor Restrictions 

Updated on March 13, 2020

Firelands Regional Health System is implementing visitor restrictions at this time. If you have a cough, chills, fever, headache, muscle aches, sore throat, or believe you have the flu, AND you are not in need of emergency care, we would ask that you please refrain from coming in. We are restricting visitation to healthy family members of the patient’s immediate family or immediate support person who are 18 years and older.

If you have any health concerns, consider calling your provider or utilizing the Firelands Virtual Care app.

Firelands is following cadence from the Erie County Health Department. For the most up-to-date and accurate information about #COVID19, please visit eriecohealthohio.org or call their information line at 419-626-5623 ext. 284.


Updated on March 4, 2020

Since our previous blog update, the new strain of coronavirus was fairly new and didn’t have a name yet. Now known as COVID-19, the disease continues to spread, however, the health risk to the American public is considered low. There are currently no confirmed cases in Ohio and the Erie County Health Department is continuing to keep a close eye on our region.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent the spread of COVID-19. That means it is very important to help prevent the spread of disease. Overall, hand washing is the most important step you can take. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer and water if soap and water are unavailable. It also helps to disinfect areas like doorknobs, keyboards, phones, work surfaces that are being used by multiple people.

Keep these other tips in mind for prevention: avoid close contact with people who are sick; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; stay home when you are sick; cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

Firelands Regional Medical Center’s Hospital Incident Command (HICS) remains in effect. Our team meets regularly to discuss our initiatives in order to remain diligent. 

All patients coming into Firelands for treatment are asked about recent international travel within the past 28 days. If a patient answers yes and are showing signs of fever and lower respiratory tract infection, they will be asked to put on a mask, sanitize their hands immediately and placed into a negative air pressure room. From there they will be evaluated further for testing.

For up-to-date and trusted information, visit the Erie County Health Department website at eriecohealthohio.org.

What is a coronavirus?

It’s been all over the news the past few days, a novel virus (novel meaning new) outbreak has been detected in China and is now presenting in patients throughout the world as a result of travel. This coronavirus, labeled 2019-nCoV, is a new strain of what has been identified within a known category of very common viruses. But what exactly is a coronavirus?

According to MedlinePlus, a coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. Most people get infected with human coronaviruses at some time in their life. One type of coronavirus that is well known to all of us is the common cold. While most coronaviruses are not dangerous, some types are severe, such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2013.


The new strain of the 2019-nCoV virus was recently detected in China, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organizations are just beginning to understand it. 

First, the virus is transmitted from person-to-person through respiratory secretions, however we have not seen this in the United States. It has an incubation period of 2 to 14 days and can present as a very mild illness up to and including severe illness, which can result in death. The virus, first found in Wuhan City, China, has a confirmed case count of 4600+ patients and 106 deaths in China. Five travelers with confirmed cases are currently being treated within the United States, including Washington, Illinois, California, and Arizona states.

Investigations are being conducted in 26 US states, including Ohio, with 73+ patients still being evaluated with testing. The CDC has identified the spread of this virus could be a serious public health threat but with the immediate health risk being low at this time.

According to the Erie County Health Department, the risk to Erie County residents remains low, and no additional precautions or restrictions are recommended at this time. Residents should continue normal activities including school, sporting events, and social engagements. However, it is currently influenza season so standard precautions should be taken such as washing hands, practicing proper cough etiquette (coughing into your elbow), and staying home if you are feeling ill.

People who have traveled to China or have had close contact with someone who has traveled to China AND have fever, cough, and shortness of breath should call their primary care provider or the Erie County Community Health Center (419-626-5623 ext. 174) immediately for more guidance. 

What is Firelands Regional Medical Center doing?

The hospital has a group of leaders who are assigned to monitor the current outbreak situation daily. This group is called the hospital incident command system, which allows us to communicate all information to our staff in real-time as it becomes available.

Recent travel history has been part of our admission assessment for the last several years. Patients with this travel or contact history who present with symptoms including cough, fever, difficulty breathing, etc. (signs of respiratory infection) will be considered at risk for 2019-nCoV. The patient will be asked to mask, sanitize their hands, and will be placed in a negative air pressure room. Staff members will implement STANDARD, CONTACT, DROPLET, and AIRBORNE precautions to render care to the patient, as we continue to support the patient’s health care needs.

The medical center will continue working very closely with the Erie County Health Department to coordinate the processes for reporting and specimen management.

For accurate and up-to-date information on the 2019 novel Coronavirus, visit the Erie County Health Department website at www.eriecohealthohio.com. For additional questions, contact the Erie County Health Commissioner, Peter Schade, at 419-626-5623 ext 112 or 419-656-2796.