Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV. The spherical viral particles, colorized blue, contain cross-section through the viral genome, seen as black dots. Supplied by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Wayne County has had its first presumptive COVID-19 case, health officials announced Tuesday morning.

The patient is a resident of Franklin County but recently sought treatment at Reid Health’s emergency department for a variety of symptoms.

The patient was rapidly identified as a person under investigation, and appropriate actions were taken to safeguard staff and care for the individual in the appropriate setting, said Dr. Thomas Huth.

Huth said health officials received notification of the positivity of the first level test Monday evening. The patient remains in Reid’s hospital and is in good condition.

“That doesn’t change what we’ve been doing to care for the patient – we’ve been taking the right precautions all along,” Huth said.

Indiana reports cases by the patient’s county of residence. On Tuesday, Indiana shows two cases in Franklin County.

Wayne County Health Officer Dr. David Jetmore said county health officers will be working closely with Franklin County health officials to determine any contacts this person has had with other people.

A presumptive positive means the initial test by the Indiana State Health Department is positive. The test is then sent to the Centers for Disease Control for confirmation of the results, which officials said takes several days.

Huth said Reid and other health systems have been preparing for the arrival of COVID-19 into Indiana for weeks.

“From our perspective, it’s been a matter of not whether we’ll have a case, but when,” Huth said. “I’m proud to say Reid Health is very well prepared.”

Misty Foust-Cofield said Reid is canceling elective surgery effective Thursday, with non-urgent surgeries postponed until a later date.

Wellness visits planned with some Reid health care providers or for concerns that are not urgent will be postponed as well.
Reid also has restricted visitation to protect health care providers and help reduce the spread of coronavirus in the community.

Jetmore emphasized the need for residents to avoid large groups and trying to stay six feet away from people through social distancing, and Huth called them a “firebreak.”

“It’s so much easier to do something if you understand the reason why – why shouldn’t I touch my face? What’s this deal about washing my hands?” Jetmore said. “This virus is an incredibly infective virus.”

Someone with the ordinary flu will infect an average 1.2 other people, but coronavirus’ infectivity rate is 3 to 8, meaning they’ll infect three to eight other people, Jetmore said.

Most COVID-19 patients are coughing or sneezing and droplets will travel up to five or six feet in the air, infecting other people, so social distancing is needed. When this virus hit someone’s face when they’re breathed into lungs or they hit their eyes or the lips, they become infected.
Those infected also shed virus particles on countertops, doorknobs, banisters or other surfaces that can be touched and carried to faces. Younger people often shed the virus while not feeling ill.
“There’s no need to go out and buy 18 bottles of hand sanitizer – washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds is going to kill all these viruses,” Jetmore said.
Huth said the vast majority who come down with COVID-19 are not particularly ill and become better on their own with general conservative care.
“Unlike the common cold virus, there are some people in our community who are particularly vulnerable to complications,” Huth said. “These are the people who may become severely ill and need to be hospitalized or have lifesaving interventions such as mechanical ventilation … It’s those people we want to protect, it’s not necessarily the general people in the community who may get a cold and recover and that’s it, but those people are going to put their family and friends who are in the vulnerable category at risk.”

Reid Health has a technology in place that helps reduce the number of times caregivers enter a patient’s room, which is helpful with an infectious illness. “MedSitter” is a Remote Patient Safety Monitoring program that places a portable unit at the bedside and connects the patient directly to caregivers by video and audio. Designed to help reduce falls and other risks, it can be used with presumptive or confirmed COVID-19 patients as a way to further reducing the risk of spreading the virus.

“This system, known internally as “Ruby,” is in place with the current patient and has been successful in minimizing staff exposure. Staff who do enter the room are outfitted with appropriate personal protection equipment, per the CDC guidelines and our own infection control protocols,” said Misti Foust-Cofield, Reid Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer.

“We are so proud of our team members and of the people we serve for so readily understanding our visitor restrictions and other measures,” Kinyon said. “This is how we expect to avoid exhausting resources and caregivers as we deal with this pandemic for what right now is an indefinite period of time.”

Reid Health is offering a FREE virtual COVID screening through its Reid HealthNOW platform. The health system emphasized that anyone who suspects they have COVID-19 symptoms to call ahead before going to their doctor, urgent care or the emergency room if possible.

Reid also is taking these precautions:
A “no visitor” policy with exceptions for certain situations such as end of life, the Family Birthing Center, Emergency Department, or surgery
Staff at the entrances of the hospital campus and physician offices asking screening questions of everyone before they enter
When appropriate, having people return to their cars for phone triage if COVID-19 risk is determined
Asking anyone with potential COVID-19 exposure to call ahead before going to any physician office, urgent care or emergency room
Encouraging anyone who has an appointment at a Reid facility to arrive extra early for the verbal screening process
Outpatient surgeries and other procedures are being temporarily limited to patients in more urgent need of care

A task force has been evaluating and making plans based on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) recommendations for handling COVID-19, including how to protect staff as well as patients.

For FAQs and daily updates, visit the ReidHealth Plan, Don’t Panic information page.Plan, Don’t Panic information page.Plan, Don’t Panic information page.

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