Posted by Terrence Dalton
The Rotary Club of Akron had the privilege of listening to Donna Skoda, the Health Commissioner for the Summit County Public Health Department during our Tuesday, September 22, 2020 Club meeting.  Her presentation was specifically oriented toward the COVID-19 pandemic. It was a very engaging presentation with multiple follow-up questions about the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The mission of Summit County Public Health is to protect and promote the health of the entire community through programs and activities designed to address the safety, health and well-being of the people who live in Summit County.  The Health Department seeks to create a healthful environment and ensure the accessibility of health services to all.
Their vision is a community where all can achieve optimal health where they live, work and play, resulting in... HEALTHY PLACES, HEALTHY PEOPLE, AND HEALTHIER TOMORROWS.
SCPH’s core values are reflected in their strategic approach and guide their interactions with clients, community partners and each other.   Summit County Public Health’s core values are embodied in the acronym “PROMISE.”
  • Providing professionalism - Honesty, integrity and competency in all interactions
  • Respect - Everyone who interacts with us in any capacity will be treated with respect
  • Outstanding quality - We are nationally accredited and have an ongoing commitment to
    continuous improvement
  • Mission-driven dedication - Our mission statement says it all. It's who we are and what we do
  • Innovation - We look at every situation as an opportunity to be forward-thinking and proactive
  • Service-orientation - Our goal is to provide excellent customer service in all interactions
  • Equity for all - Everyone should have the opportunity to attain their highest level of healthy, regardless of social or demographic factors.
Many of the initial COVID-19 Summit County cases were in long term care facilities (nursing homes, assisted living facilities).  With new knowledge on promising treatment options and improved testing, social distancing and mask wearing, the increase of cases in long term care facilities is being managed much better.
The challenge facing Summit County, as in most other counties in Ohio, is the issue of communal spread. Currently 90% of all new cases are from community spread.  Several reasons for this community spread are the resumption of after-school activities and family gatherings where the family bubble or pod is breached and individuals are exposed.  She stated that up to 40% of cases are asymptomatic.  
The SCPH District has received over 7000 COVID-19 related complaints since the pandemic became of concern in March.   The United States has experienced over 200,000 deaths in the past 7 months.  In a really bad flu season, the United States experiences about 36,000 deaths.  The SCPH department is trying to confront the pandemic through multiple strategies.
Recently Summit County saw a new spike in cases.  Ms. Skoda stated that anytime the community “reopens” some segment of our community, we will see an increase in the spread.  She also reported that the county, as well as the nation, are seeing long term secondary effects from the virus.
Ms. Skoda stated that the availability of testing materials for the virus is no longer a problem.  The problem facing the county now is the shortage of laboratory testing capacity.  She also cautioned us all about the varying degrees of effectiveness with the anti-body tests that are available.  Currently the department is ramping up “quick testing” for the Summit County schools.  When asked whether the SCPH department was doing contact tracing, Ms. Skoda said that this is occurring and that they have been doing contract tracing for years because of past concerns with the spread of HIV, Ebola and other viruses that the community has been exposed to over the years.
While Ms. Skoda’s presentation was about the pandemic, I encourage everyone reading this synopsis of her presentation to go to to see all of the programs the health district is responsible for.  In addition there is the Summit County COVID-19 Dashboard available on their website that provides a great deal of data and resource materials for all of our education about this pandemic.