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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

First confirmed coronavirus case in Indiana

ISDH had already been monitoring more than two dozen people in Indiana for possible COVID-19.

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) announced Friday the first case of coronavirus in the state.

The person was identified as an adult from Marion County who had traveled to Boston recently and had been at an event where other people have also tested positive. They returned to Indiana on Wednesday, March 4.

The patient and Community Hospital North took precautions to keep this case from spreading. ISDH is working closely with the Marion County Public Health Department, Community Hospital North and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that any close contacts of the patient are identified and monitored, and that all infection control protocols are being followed.

A Community Hospital spokesperson said the infected person called the state health department last night. They were asked to go to Community Hospital North. Once there, hospital workers met the person in the parking lot while wearing infectious disease protective gear. The infected person was brought in an entrance where no one from the public was present and was examined in a special room designed to handle an infectious disease case like COVID-19.

The infected person is now back in a self-quarantine. The symptoms they displayed were mild and included a low-grade fever, sore throat and a cough.

Samples will be sent to the CDC for final confirmation that the person has COVID-19. ISDH said the risk to the general public is low.

Anyone who might suspect they have COVID-19 is being asked to call ahead so the hospital can prepare for your arrival.

Governor Eric Holcomb declared a public health emergency in response to the case.

"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 currently monitoring 35 people in Indiana for possible COVID-19. Indiana does have kits to test for COVID-19, but those are only done at the state level.

According to the World Health Organization, 80 percent of COVID-19 cases are mild, about 14 percent are severe and around 6 percent are critical.

According to ISDH, 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
  • 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 healthy people wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. The CDC said 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.

You can call the ISDH Epidemiology Resource Center at 317-233-7125 [317-233-1325 after hours] or e-mail epiresource@isdh.in.gov if you experience symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath and have a recent history of travel to China or contact with someone suspected of having COVID-19.

Click here for more information on COVID-19.