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Director Davis, Dr. Sorg Provide Important COVID-19 Information

DODD Director Jeff Davis is joined by DODD Medical Director Dr. Laura Sorg to discuss an increase in COVID-19 cases in Ohio's developmental disability community, and the fundamentals of staying safe over the holiday season.


- Hello everyone. My name is Jeff Davis, Director of the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, and I have with me Dr. Laura Sorg, our wonderful department medical director. So I'm gonna talk a little bit about the virus and our first nine months. Nine months, we've been part of this virus, and we've asked of each other so very much. For our individuals, we've asked them to be patient as their schedules have relentlessly upturned and everything is different. For our families, we've asked them to sacrifice. Maybe you can't spend as much time, or you haven't spent as much time with your family members as you have expected to, or in the past. For our direct support professionals, we've asked you to be committed and to be passionate, and we've seen that. And as I've watched over these nine months, I've just nodded in admiration and affection for our direct support professionals for the remarkable commitment that they have shown and the passion that they've shown and their sense of obligation and the way that they have changed their family structure, perhaps to support our individuals. And I've seen the rest of our system, and I've been around many, many years, but I can say honestly that I've never seen our system work together in the ways that it has to support our individuals and their families. Never, and we've been successful. It's been remarkable, I think, and all of this mutual commitment to one another and expectation of one another to see the success we've had. But now as we go into the holiday season, we're seeing a virus that far from surrendering is going back on the offensive, and we're in the third wave, and this wave is the harshest of all. And we know that this virus can have significant impact on our individuals, that our individuals are, in fact, more susceptible to some of the harsher nature of this virus. So as we think about where we go forward, we want to talk a little bit about community spread and what we're seeing today. We can see the future. We know that five months out, six months out perhaps, there is an answer, and the federal government and all of the different parties in our administration under Governor DeWine are working relentlessly on the vaccination, but we know we've got to get there, and so let's talk with Dr. Sorg, if you would. Let's talk a little bit about community spread.

- Absolutely, and thank you so much Dr. Davis for having me on this evening. Community spread, when we discuss that, we talk about that when we are in the community, we can pick up the virus. What happens when we're at the level of community spread is that sometimes we don't even know where we got the virus. We may have gotten it from the grocery store. We may have gotten it from eating at a restaurant, with our friends or family. And what happens is when we're at the level of community spread, someone may not pick up the virus from being at a local ICF, or they may not pick up the virus from being at a local hospital. They may not even know where they picked it up. So that means that when we're talking about community spread, we have to tighten our bubble, if you will. We have to hunker down a little bit and go, okay, where do I need to go in the community? That may mean that we may need to do things like make sure that we're eating outside, or we may need to get that meal to-go. Or it may mean that again, like Dr. Davis was saying, that the holidays might look a little different. It may be meaning that we're putting our friends or family on something like Zoom or on FaceTime to communicate with them. And that can be really tough when we've already had all these challenges, but we need to really hunker down, especially during this third wave. And historically, when we look at other things like the Spanish flu in the 20th century, oftentimes the third wave is the harshest.

- So we're gonna ask a couple of things of you tonight. Thank you so much, Dr. Sorg. We're gonna ask two things. As we look forward into this holiday and the coming months, and we see the winter come, and we know we've got to work together, and we know we have to be patient and still commit to certain things. There's some basics that we know work, we know work and science backs that up. And so if we can commit to those basics, mask wearing, even when it's uncomfortable, even after that relentless fatigue and boredom that comes along with sort of a set routine in this mask and everything, wherever we are, mask wearing, hand washing, social distancing. And perhaps, Dr. Sorg, you can touch a little bit on the science behind it.

- Absolutely, so we know that the science shows that when we both are masking, that if you have a mask on, I have a mask on, we are protecting each other. And now, even the science is showing that we can protect ourselves. We also know that for centuries, that hand washing can work. We know that social distancing, a cough or a sneeze, if it travels, is less likely to affect us if we are six feet apart. And we know these are so tough. We know that lots of folks out there, myself included, are huggers. We want to be close, and especially at the holidays, but it's so important that we continue to double down and work on this. And we know you're tired, but we appreciate your efforts so much.

- We know, particularly for individuals, for the persons we support, for families, for direct support professionals, I'm tired, I've done this. I've committed. I have sacrificed. I've sacrificed continually, but we know we're gonna make it. We know we're gonna make it into the next calendar year. We know we'll make it to the vaccine, but we need to, we are asking of you that we continue to be vigilant, we continue to be persistent, stay with the basics. And then we're gonna ask one more thing out of you, and that is spread the message. Community spread means, it means, that it is spreading, and we're getting this virus in a number of different ways that Dr. Sorg talked about. So share the message. If we can be vigilant, and we can share the message with our coworkers, with our family, with our friends, whatever it might be share the message, stay vigilant, stay with us, and Dr. Sorg.

- So again, we appreciate you so much. We appreciate what you're doing. We want to make sure you know that we are here, we're committing and recommitting to the basics ourselves, and we're here to spread the message and not the virus for COVID-19.

- Thank you all so very much, for your time, for your commitment, for your passion, for your hard work. Thank you for listening. And we'll talk with you soon.