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Public Was Kept in Dark

Of course, after hearing three employees had tested positive for COVID-19, officials at the Tony Teramana Cancer Center thought first about specific, concrete steps to safeguard patients and staff. That was the responsible thing to do.

But officials Trinity Health Systems in Steubenville, where the center is located, learned of the first positive test late Wednesday. It was not until Sunday — more than three days later — that the matter was confirmed for the press.

Meanwhile, as always seems to be the case in the age of social media, rumors were swirling through the community. Concern among members of the public is understandable. COVID-19 is a threat primarily to older people with underlying medical conditions — such as those treated at a hospital.

On Monday, cancer center officials held a conference call with reporters, to discuss the matter.

“We had to make decisions about how to protect patients and staff,” explained Dr. Mark Trombetta, who is the center’s medical director. “Our first (priority) isn’t to notify media. It’s to protect patients and staff.”

Again, that is understandable. Center employees were tested, the building is being decontaminated and the center is closed. It will not reopen “until all employees are (tested) negative or have passed CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) guidelines,” Trombetta said on Monday.

Apparently, during the three days after the first positive test for COVID-19 was returned, no one thought of discussing the matter with the press.

COVID-19 has become a global crisis. In Ohio alone, at least 2,200 people are battling the disease. By Tuesday, it had taken 55 lives in the Buckeye State and more than 3,600 nationwide.

Many people are eager for information — anything that may help them protect themselves and loved ones against the coronavirus. Knowing that it had been detected at a local hospital falls into that category, obviously.

Cancer center officials’ failure to alert the public through the press was a mistake. It should not be repeated by other health care professionals.

Period.

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