Indiana announces second COVID-19 case, also connected to Boston conference

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Indiana health officials have identified a second presumptive positive case of COVID-19, the illness being spread by the coronavirus, just two days after announcing the first case.

The Indiana State Department of Health said Sunday the patient is from Hendricks County and is in isolation in an undisclosed location with mild symptoms.

The patient is not hospitalized, officials said, but they did not disclose where or when the individual was tested.

The patient traveled to Boston in late February to attend the BioGen conference and developed mild flu-like symptoms on March 2, officials said.

More than a dozen COVID-19 cases nationwide have been tied to the conference, including a Marion County resident who was identified Friday as Indiana’s first COVID-19 case. That patient also remains in self-isolation with mild symptoms.

No details were provided on the second patient’s age, gender or general health. No information was given on which airline or flight the patient might have taken. The patient’s test samples will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.

State health officials say they are working closely with the Hendricks and Marion County health departments and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ensure that any close contacts of both patients are identified and monitored and that all infection control protocols are being followed.

There are more than 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with 80% concentrated in China. The virus is believed to have originated in the Wuhan province. More than 3,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died in China so far.

“With the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the United States and the fact that we are a mobile society, this new case isn’t surprising, but we know it causes concern in the community,” said Dr. Kris Box, Indiana state health commissioner, in a press release issued by the state health department.

Dr. Box asked Hoosiers who attended the BioGen conference to self-quarantine at home, monitor for symptoms and notify their local health department or a healthcare provider if they develop a cough, fever or shortness of breath. This guidance is consistent with information BioGen shared with conference participants.

Dr. David Stopperich, the Hendricks County health officer, said the county has prepared for possibilities like a COVID-19 case and assured residents that all necessary steps are being taken to reduce the spread of the illness, according to a press release issued by the state health department.

“Our health department and the entire medical community of Hendricks County have been working in conjunction with schools, emergency management and other organizations to develop plans to limit the spread of this disease,” Stopperich said in written remarks. “I ask anyone who thinks they might have symptoms of COVID-19 to call a health care provider so they can be evaluated by phone before going to a medical facility. This will help further limit any spread of this virus.”

Indiana health officials said all confirmed COVID-19 patients are required to remain in isolation for at least 14 days and until specimens taken on two consecutive days test negative for COVID-19.

Individuals who have recently visited an area under a so-called “Level 3 travel warning” are also 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.

Gov. Eric Holcomb declared a public health emergency on Friday so the state can seek federal funding to help control and stop any spread of the coronavirus.

President Trump signed a bipartisan $8.3 billion package Friday morning to provide emergency funding to combat the coronavirus outbreak. About $2 billion of that will be used for public health measurers in the U.S. to help prevent the spread of the illness. The remainder of the money will be used for developing treatments or sent overseas.

A running tally from Johns Hopkins reported on late Friday morning that there were 236 confirmed cases in the United States and 14 deaths—most in the state of Washington.

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