COVID-19 cases confirmed at long-term care facility, Tyson
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]
In the past week, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Harrison County went from 58 to 106 and a third county resident has died from the virus, the Harrison County Health Dept. reported late afternoon yesterday (Tuesday).
Thirty-seven of those new cases were reported among patients and staff at Harrison Healthcare Center in Corydon and three were from Tyson Foods’ Corydon plant.
No information about the deceased was available at press time.
Information released last Wednesday said six cases of COVID-19 were reported at Harrison Healthcare. That was the first release to confirm any positive cases at a long-term care facility since local health officials reported the county’s first confirmed positive case on March 16.
Seventeen additional COVID-19 cases were identified at the facility on Friday, with health officials saying 16 of those were reported to be asymptomatic, meaning the persons showed no symptoms of the virus.
On Sunday, 10 more persons associated with Harrison Healthcare were confirmed positive for COVID-19, with nine of them as asymptomatic.
Residents in other long-term care facilities in the county have been tested by one of the Indiana State Health Dept.’s strike teams.
“As we expand testing, we anticipate an increase in confirmed cases,” Dr. Andrew Morton, the county’s health officer, said. “We encourage all Harrison County residents to continue their stay-at-home efforts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public.
“Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance,” he said. “The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.”
On Friday, health department officials also confirmed they were working closely with the ISDH and Tyson Foods to investigate COVID-19 cases at the plant.
“At least three individuals have tested positive for COVID-19,” said Carrie Herthel, the health administrator. “All individuals are quarantined, and health officials are working with the plant to ensure that all appropriate infection-control protocols are being followed.”
She added that there currently is no evidence to support transmission of the virus associated with food.
No further information about COVID-19 patients or the latest resident to die from the virus will be released due to privacy laws, health officials said.
“We know that people older than 60 with underlying health conditions are most at risk during this pandemic,” Morton said. “We ask that everyone join in our efforts to protect these vulnerable people by not visiting long-term care facilities, but rather using other options, such as offering residents access to mobile devices to continue virtual contact with loved ones through email or video-call applications.”
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness most commonly spread from an infected person to others through droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing; close personal contact; touching an object or surface with the virus on it then touching one’s mouth, nose or eyes; and, rarely, fecal contamination.
According to health officials, many people who acquire COVID-19 will have mild symptoms, can self-isolate and do not need to be tested. Older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness.
The CDC said the best ways to protect against the coronavirus is to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you’re sick, cover your cough or sneeze and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
The ISDH last week set up a drive-thru test site at Ivy Tech Community College in Sellersburg. Initially, tests were only done for health care workers, first responders and workers deemed to be essential. Then, it was expanded to included testing those who live in the same household as health care workers, first responders and essential workers as well as individuals who are experiencing symptoms and have underlying health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. By Monday, health officials said testing would be available to anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms as long as test supplies were available.