ISDH reports increase in COVID-19 cases
Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and the Indiana State Dept. of Health announced Friday the state’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19. Since then, the ISDH has confirmed five additional presumptive positive cases of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). The individuals reside in Marion, Hendricks, Noble, Boone and Adams counties. Three of the adult patients have a reported history of travel.
Two of the people are in the hospital; the other four are in self-isolation.
“With the help of our federal, state and local partners, Indiana is responding to this as we have planned and prepared for weeks,” Holcomb said.
The Harrison County Health Dept. is not currently investigating any possible cases of COVID-19 but is staying in close contact with the ISDH and is prepared to take appropriate action should it be necessary. For more information, call the local health department at 812-738-3237.
The CDC has published interim guidance for businesses and employers to plan and respond to COVID-19, which can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/guidance-business-response.html.
The ISDH is working closely with the county public health departments, hospitals and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that any close contacts of patients are identified and monitored and that all infection control protocols are being followed.
A presumptive positive case means the patient has tested positive at the ISDH Laboratories. Samples will be sent to the CDC for final confirmation.
Holcomb’s public health emergency declaration issued Friday calls on state agencies to continue their diligence and cooperation in responding to COVID-19 and ensures that Indiana can seek funding to control and stop the spread of coronavirus.
State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., said the initial adult patient has been in quarantine since arriving back in Indianapolis and that the risk to the general public is low. The CDC will work to identify and notify air travelers who were on the individual’s flight from Boston and had close contact with the patient. That patient will remain in isolation for 14 days and will not be released until specimens taken two consecutive days at the end of that period test negative for COVID-19.
“The state health department has been preparing for weeks to ensure that we have the resources and systems in place to limit or prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Indiana,” Box said. “Given the global spread of this illness, the question was never if Indiana would have a case, but when it would arrive.”
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel, or new, coronavirus that has not been previously identified. The virus causing COVID-19 is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold.
Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:
Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing;
Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
Touching an object or surface with the virus on it then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands; and
Rarely, fecal contamination.
The best way to protect one’s self from any respiratory illness, including the flu, is to:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue then throw the tissue in the trash.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19; people should only wear a mask if a health care professional recommends it. A face mask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms to protect others from the risk of infection.
All confirmed COVID-19 patients are required to remain in isolation until specimens taken on two consecutive days test negative for COVID-19. Individuals who have recently visited an area under a Level 3 travel warning also are asked to self-isolate for 14 days and notify their local health department or a healthcare provider if they develop symptoms of COVID-19, which include cough, fever and shortness of breath.
The Indiana Hospital Association wants Hoosiers to know that hospitals are prepared. Hospitals actively participate in infection control efforts, regional patient safety coalitions and in Indiana’s public health preparedness districts. These networks serve Hoosiers well in responding to any public health emergency across the health care continuum in partnership with federal, state and local agencies.
“Every hospital has already been preparing for this development by collaborating with state and local partners,” according to a press release from the IHA. “We are fortunate to have leaders in Gov. Holcomb’s administration like State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box, who has been working tirelessly with stakeholders in anticipation of this possibility.
“We urge Hoosiers to take an active role in prevention of all contagious diseases, including influenza. Actions everyone can take include, but are not limited to, vaccination, good hygiene practices, covering coughs and sneezes and staying home when ill. The Indiana Hospital Association recommends those looking for resources to utilize the Indiana State Dept. of Health’s dedicated web page or CDC guidance to learn more.”
The ISDH call center for health care providers and members of the public who have concerns about COVID-19 will be staffed 24 hours a day; the number is 1-317-233-7125. However, the public is asked to use the ISDH COVID-19 website, the CDC website or contact their health care provider with questions or to learn the most up-to-date information about the outbreak and what steps to take. Questions about symptoms and many risk factors, as well as guidance on travel, can be answered using the websites, which will leave the call center lines open to take calls from health care providers or others regarding the most ill patients.
The ISDH Laboratories follow CDC guidance on which patients to test. Patients who do not meet those guidelines can ask their health care providers about being tested by a private lab.
Currently, the CDC has issued no official recommendations regarding domestic travel. All travelers should practice general preventive measures. Regarding international travel, the CDC recommends avoiding non-essential travel to countries with a CDC level 3 travel health notice. Additionally, anyone returning from travel to countries with a CDC level 3 travel health notice will be instructed to self-quarantine for 14 days. Additional information, as well as a list of countries with health advisories, is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html.
For more information, including a list of frequently asked questions, can be found online at https://on.in.gov/COVID19.