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STATE HEALTH DEPARTMENT CONFIRMS 1st CASE OF COVID-19 IN HOOSIER WITH RECENT TRAVEL

Friday, March 6, 2020 12:00am to 12:00am

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INDIANAPOLIS—Governor Eric J. Holcomb and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) announced today the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in a Marion County resident with a recent history of travel to Boston. To ensure continued coordination, Gov. Holcomb is issuing a public health emergency declaration.

“With the help of our federal, state and local partners, Indiana is responding to this case as we have planned and prepared for weeks,” Gov. Holcomb said. “The Hoosier who has been diagnosed has taken responsible steps to stay isolated.”

ISDH is working closely with the Marion County Public Health Department, Community Hospital North and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ensure that any close contacts of the patient 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.

The public health emergency declaration Gov. Holcomb is issuing today will call 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. The declaration will be posted at www.in.gov/gov.

State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, said the 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.

The 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. No additional information about the patient will be released due to privacy laws.

“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,” Dr. Box said. “Given the global spread of this illness, the question was never if Indiana would have a case, but when it would arrive. I want to stress that this is an isolated case, and that this patient and the hospital did everything possible to limit the risk of exposure to other individuals. Because of those steps, the risk of additional exposure and community transmission is low, but we are taking every precaution to prevent new infections related to this patient.”

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 yourself 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 facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms to protect others from the risk of infection.

This is an ongoing situation and is evolving rapidly. ISDH will provide updates as new information becomes available. For more information, including a list of frequently asked questions, visit on.in.gov/COVID19.

Visit the Indiana State Department of Health at www.in.gov/isdh/ or follow us on Twitter at @StateHealthIN and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/StateHealthIN.

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