UPDATE: Marion County man tests positive for COVID-19, state officials say

Indiana health officials announced at a press conference Friday morning that a Marion County resident has tested positive for COVID-19, the illness created by the novel coronavirus that has spread across the world in recent weeks.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said that in response he has declared a public health emergency so the state can seek federal funding to help control and stop any spread of the coronavirus.

The patient is an adult who recently traveled to Boston and now is in isolation. Health officials stressed that there was no ongoing risk to the public.

The man returned to Indianapolis on Wednesday. He suspected he had been infected and called the Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday night for guidance. He was advised to go to the Community Hospital North emergency room for testing.

Hospital employees were notified in advance, put on infectious disease protective covering and met the patient in the parking lot, said Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive at Community Health Network.

“He was then placed in appropriate materials, a mask and other infectious-disease precautions,” Yeleti said. “He was taken back to an isolation room through a different side entrance, not in contact with any other individuals.”

The patient was placed in a room with “negative airflow,” where the testing was done, Yeleti said.

No caregivers or patients are believed to have been affected.

“We were exceedingly cautious on the route we took, and minimal to zero exposure to anybody that did not have protective, infectious disease material,” Yeleti said.

The man’s samples tested positive for COVID-19 at the state department of health’s laboratories, earning the official designation of “presumed positive.” Samples will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for final confirmation.

The man’s symptoms were mild, including a low-grade temperature and slight cough, according to health officials. They said he still is in mainly healthy condition. He will remain in isolation for 14 days and won’t be released until he tests negative for the disease over two consecutive days.

His location has not been disclosed, but he is not at Community North, according to officials from the health care system who attended Friday’s press conference.

Health officials said because of privacy laws, they would not release additional information about the patient.

Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said the state needs federal help to bring in additional epidemiologists and resources for the department’s call center, which is being overwhelmed with inquiries.

She said the state also needs more masks and help with lab testing follow-up.

Indianapolis city officials said they were assisting with the situation to ensure that any close contacts of the patient are identified and monitored and that all infection control protocols are being followed.

The CDC will work to identify and notify travelers who were on the man’s flight from Boston and were in close contact with him.

“This morning’s swift response from our state and local health experts was the result of preparation and collaboration,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a media release. “I want to thank Governor Eric Holcomb for the leadership shown in today’s public health emergency declaration, and Indianapolis remains committed to assisting our federal, state, and Marion County partners as we monitor this situation.”

There are more than 100,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 worldwide, with 80 percent 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.

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.

Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, said Friday morning that individuals should refrain from shaking hands and hugging. The best defense against the virus is to frequently wash hands with soap and water—or use alcohol-based sanitizers—and to disinfect commonly used surfaces.

State officials also released a set of guidelines for avoiding infection.

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9 thoughts on “UPDATE: Marion County man tests positive for COVID-19, state officials say

  1. OK in FULL transparency, how about disclosing the flight that brought him to Indpls, as well as the time he spent walking through the airport, getting his car etc.? Where does he live, did he take an UBER to the hospital or did his wife drive? Where does she work? Did his kids go to school this morning? And where do they go to school? Did he visit CVS to get aspirin? All important questions! I’m glad the hospital employees are safe, but is there no concern for those who came in contact with him or members of his family between Boston and when he arrived at the hospital?

    1. They are doing all those things and alerting the people that need to be alerted. What you suggest would only cause unneeded panic.

  2. I agree with Rebecca….. Who all did he come in contact with… What flight was he on that came to Indy and how many people did he come in contact with once he landed.

    1. By “privacy issues” are you talking about HIPAA? I would be surprised if all of the various CEOs for any facility with access to this type of information haven’t made all of their associates/employees aware of what a HIPAA violation could mean…were one to occur, I could see a landshark telling the legal representation of the violator’s employer, “we’ll settle for half if you escort the violator to their car in the next fifteen minutes.”

  3. The more important issue is that the public health department investigates these possibilities.

    Alerting everyone to this instead does not help.

    Asking for all this info in the name of transparency IS alarmism because frankly there are NO valid consequences to the public knowing this.

    Mainly because all of the affected areas would be dealt with asap. If someone sat in the uber the epidemiologists would identify it, clean it and take care of it. Same with the rest.

    Letting you know wont change that. It would however lead to unnecessary phone calls and unnecessary anxieties that would harm businesses when there is absolutely no need.

    To answer your question about the aspirin- the ability to infect this way is severely limited at best. I would not recommend identifying the store publicly. It wouldnt help you simply because they already know if he went anywhere and have likely taken precautions. Therefore it is safe to go there now -if that happened.

    This type of armchair epidemiology alarmism is precisely why pandemics occur- people freak out, buy masks, stock up on food and medicine and avoid businesses unnecessarily and cause strain to the economy and health system.

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