Our County Health Commissioner: ".. we don't know exactly what's going on ..."

Apr 30, 2020 - Toledo Blade - Lucas County's coronavirus deaths the highest in the state

Lucas County is the home county for Toledo, Ohio. According to this page, Lucas County is the sixth most populated county in Ohio.

Why is Lucas County now leading all counties in Ohio for Covid-19 deaths?

From the Blade article:

More people have died in Lucas County because of coronavirus than any other county in the state, according to data released by the Ohio Department of Health.

Lucas County makes up 12 percent of all statewide deaths, with 117 as of April 30 out of the 975 statewide coronavirus deaths. Cuyahoga County has the second highest death count with 112 cases and Mahoning with 80.

Toledo-Lucas County Health Commissioner Eric Zgodzinski cautioned that it’s too early to put much stock — at least for now — in the county’s higher coronavirus death toll, adding that at one time the county had one of the lowest numbers.

When? In February when no county in Ohio officially reported a Covid-19 death.

Lucas County has always been among the top counties in Ohio, simply because it has a larger population than most counties. Duh.

Ohio's first recorded Covid-19 death occurred in Lucas County.

More from the Blade about what Zgodzinski said, regarding our county's Covid-19 death toll:

The way hospitals are calculating the deaths in each county might be one factor in the county’s higher death count so far, he said, adding officials will be spending the next months to even years studying the trends related to coronavirus infections, deaths, recording methods, and responses.

I don't know what Zgodzinski was trying to say with the last part of the above paragraph. How does Lucas County's current death toll relate to officials taking years to study whatever?

I'll have to ask the nurses in my family why do hospitals apparently struggle with counting, reporting, and simple arithmetic. If a patient died due to complications from having Covid-19, then isn't a variable incremented by one?

I've read that local hospitals report deaths to the state, and then the state reports the data back to the counties. That sounds like a government circle-jerk. Can't hospitals report simple stats to both levels of government at the same time? Or why not report to the county and let the county report to the state?

This is the next paragraph in the Blade article:

“I don't think we can put it on any one variable right now,” Mr. Zgodzinski said. We’re reporting as much as we can, but right now we don’t know exactly what’s going on (with the coronavirus)... we can’t even take a guess.”

I wonder if the Blade reporter thought privately, "What did you say?"

Regarding Lucas County reporting the highest Covid-19 death toll in Ohio, and regarding the apparently complex process of hospitals recording Covid-19 deaths, our county health commissioner said:

I don't think we can put it on any one variable right now.

What does that mean? I wish that the Blade article contained more clarification. The article was suppose to be about our county's death toll.

This is a stunning admission from our county health commissioner.

... but right now we don’t know exactly what’s going on (with the coronavirus)... we can’t even take a guess.

The Blade writing or editing process added context to Zgodzinski statement. What was Zgodzinski referring to? Was he still discussing the alleged difficulty in counting? The current number is 117, and that's across six weeks. It's not like we're talking about millions. Why is it hard to count to 117 in six weeks?

When Zgodzinski said, "... we don’t know exactly what’s going on ...", I wonder if he was referring to EVERYTHING related to Covid-19 and not specifically to hospitals reporting stats. If true, then why should anyone listen to Zgodzinski, regarding local Covid-19 guidelines?

Zgodzinski's statement was not very reassuring. Even if it's true, or if he thought that way, he should have kept it private.


A slightly related story ...

Apr 30, 2020 - Toledo Blade - Local safety guidelines likely on the way as retailers look to reopen

Oh boy. That should alarm local residents.

Earlier this month, Toledo mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz and Zgodzinski banned Michigan residents from playing on golf courses in Lucas County. That's strange, considering that neighboring Michigan counties, Monroe and Lenawee, have far fewer Covid-19 deaths than Lucas County because those Michigan counties and our neighboring counties in Ohio have much smaller populations.

If local officials were concerned about health, then they should have banned Lucas County residents from playing on Lucas County golf courses.

From this other Blade story:

Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said May 12 is circled on many calendars because that is when retail in Ohio will start to reopen. And while it may signal the start of a slow return to normalcy, Toledoans should still expect to see restrictions when they go out to shop.

“Along with the health department, we are studying and considering whether there should be local guidelines to supplement the governor’s orders,” Mr. Kapszukiewicz said during a news conference Thursday.

This story is about municipal guidelines and not county regs. For the golf course silliness, mayor Wade started the Michigan ban on Toledo's municipal golf courses, and then Zgodzinski followed by ordering all golf courses in Lucas County to ban Michigan residents.

For this second Blade story, Zgodzinski was not mentioned, which obviously means that any additional guidelines handed down by mayor Wade will only apply to Toledo's businesses. The other communities in Lucas County may do something different.

The question will be whether Zgodzinski will create any county-wide directives. If he does, it would make sense for a Blade reporter to ask Zgodzinski the following.

Reporter: Mr. Zgodzinski, in late April, you said, "We don't know exactly what’s going on," regarding the coronavirus. If you don't know what's going on, then what is the basis for creating these recommendations? Why should people listen to you? "

-30-