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For Now, Not All 911 Calls Will Result In Hospital Transport


Normally when people call the Hamilton County 911 center for emergency medical services, they're usually transported to a local hospital.  But during the COVID-19 crisis, that's changing, especially if they have coronavirus symptoms. 

Dr. Woods Curry with UC Health worked with county fire departments on a new protocol. He said if patients meet the criteria to stay home, it's probably safer there.

"You are probably at that point in the group of people who are going to do well," Curry said. "You certainly don't feel well, the patients that I've seen in my emergency department that have coronavirus don't feel well. But if you have reassuring vital signs, and you're not in the risk categories that predict that you will do poorly, most people will recover and do better, more safely at home."

Patients will be given home care instructions, and be told that if their conditions get worse, they can always call 911 again for assistance.

County Communications Center Director Andy Knapp said the number of 911 calls coming in the center have been decreasing during the COVID-19 outbreak. He said on a typical day the center has about 1,200 to 1,500 calls. Last Friday there were about 1,000 calls.

The center has contingency plans in place if dispatchers and call takers become ill because of COVID-19. That could include having administrators answer 911 calls, changing from an eight-hour shift to a 12-hour shift, and canceling off time for personnel.

County Commission President Denise Driehaus said the number of inmates housed at the county justice center continues to decline. As of Monday morning, it was 877 inmates. That's down 379 from earlier in March. Driehaus said that number is very close to being able to house one inmate per cell for better social distancing in the jail.

Driehaus said like Cincinnati, the county is facing declining revenues and officials are using modeling to predict what the impact will be on the county's budget. She said the decline comes at a time when the county was just beginning to stabilize its budget.

"We're trying to be predictive when it comes to what things might look like if sales tax is reduced to this amount or this amount," Driehaus said.

She said the county administrator will participate in a press briefing later this week to outline what some of the options are as the county prepares for lower revenues.

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Jay Hanselman brings more than 10 years experience as a news anchor and reporter to 91.7 WVXU. He came to WVXU from WNKU, where he hosted the local broadcast of All Things Considered. Hanselman has been recognized for his reporting by the Kentucky AP Broadcasters Association, the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and the Ohio AP Broadcasters.