Indianapolis News and HeadlinesIndiana Coronavirus News


First case of coronavirus confirmed in Indiana

Posted at 11:16 AM, Mar 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-06 18:23:48-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana health officials confirmed Friday a case of the coronavirus in Indianapolis.

Gov. Eric Holcomb has declared a public health emergency in Indiana.

The patient is an adult male who recently traveled to Boston for an event, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said. The man called ahead to the health department and entered Community North Hospital through a side door with health professionals.

His contact with others was minimal to none, Community Health Network Physician Dr. Ram Yeleti said. The patient is now in self-isolation, and was only at the hospital from about 11:30 p.m. Thursday to 2:30 a.m. Friday.

Twelve people have been tested, and another 35 are being monitored for the virus, Box said.

"I need the public to be patriotic," Marion County Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine said. "Do the things they need to do to protect themselves. I need them to take this virus very seriously, but you can die just as well from the flu, influenza. We need everyone to do the things they need to do to protect everyone, and please follow our guidance."

Box said the Marion County Health Department will ask questions to determine who else could have been exposed to the virus.

"What flight did you fly in on is very important? Where were you staying? Who did you have contact with? Did you go to school? Are there children or other individuals that may have been exposed?" Box said.

Pacers Sports & Entertainment issued a statement Friday afternoon that all scheduled events at Bankers Life Fieldhouse will continue as scheduled for all ticketed guests.

"The health and safety of our visitors and staff is our top priority. We will continue to work closely with and implement guidance from the Marion County Public Health Department and the State of Indiana Department of Health to monitor for COVID-19."

Pacers Sports & Entertainment and Bankers Life Fieldhouse have preventive measure in place to help prevent the spread of viruses including: cleaning and disinfecting of exposed surfaces, posted reminders to cover coughing and sneezing and to frequently wash hands with soap and water, and providing hand sanitizer stations thorughout the facility.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China has some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths of noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it may be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.

What are day care centers doing?

Day care centers around Indianapolis are closely monitoring the situation.

Kate Vaulter, corporate communications manager for Early Learning Indiana, which operates Day Early Learning, said they are continuing to monitor the situation and are following guidance from the Indiana State Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"We have emergency response plans that we are reviewing and updating as needed," Vaulter said.

Vaulter said they are emphasizing good handwashing and thorough cleaning of surfaces and toys at their centers as a way to limit the spread of all illnesses, not just novel coronavirus. Their centers are also encouraging parents to keep home any child who is experiencing any illness to help limit the spread.

"We're really emphasizing the same type of preventative meausres that you would take for cold and flu season," Vaulter said.

Vaulter said they are also highly encouraging all centers to make sure they have accurate and up-to-date contact information for parents so they can effectively and quickly communicate any changes that may need to be implemented.

Other area day care centers are also following the CDC and ISDH guidance.