This week, community events are postponing, schools are sending home letters about hygiene best practices, populated workplaces began instituting a remote work-from-home policy and local governments have begun to anticipate the inevitable appearance of coronavirus COVID-19.
Allen County has no confirmed or suspected cases at this time. However, Governor Eric J. Holcomb and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) announced last Friday the first case of COVID-19 in a Marion County resident, and the governor issued a public health emergency declaration in response. To date there are 4 individuals diagnosed with the virus in Indiana, including a patient in Noble County (Kendallville, IN).
In an effort to keep the community up-to-date and informed on the novel COVID-19, the Allen County Department of Health has recently developed a public hotline and webpage www.allencountyhealth.com/covid-19 devoted to the evolving issue. The COVID-19 hotline can be reached at (260) 449-4499, Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to answer questions and address concerns from the public.
The virus was first identified in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has rapidly spread to countries around the world, including the U.S. Reported illnesses of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, to severe illness and death. There is currently no vaccine or treatment for this virus.
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; and
• Rarely, fecal contamination.
Department officials want to remind the public that with the first presumptive case in Indiana confirmed, preparation (and not panic) is important. The best way to protect yourself from any respiratory illness 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 people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. 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.