MUNCIE, Ind. – Just a day after Delaware County had its first confirmed case of coronavirus, officials on Saturday afternoon confirmed a second local case, one that resulted in the county’s first COVID-19-related death.
This was believed to be just the fourth such death in the state as of Saturday.
The Delaware County Health Department (DCHD) reported late Friday that an individual within the county had tested positive through lab testing for SAR-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 infection.
A second test was confirmed on Saturday, and that individual died while being treated at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital.
The patient was identified by both state and local releases as a woman over the age of 60. She was admitted to the hospital from home and was being treated at IU Health BMH. There was no word on whether the victim had medical conditions that made her more at risk for the virus.
Jammie Bane, the administrator with the Delaware County Health Department, told The Star Press on Saturday that officials did not believe the second case was related to the first one announced on Friday.
“The Delaware County Health Department and its partners have been operating and planning under the assumption that COVID-19 was already widespread across the United States, and knew it was only a matter of time before our first confirmed cases were identified,” Bane said. “This doesn’t make yesterday’s confirmed case or today’s separate confirmed COVID-19-related death any easier.”
Bane said that his staff was working diligently under the direction of the Indiana State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control to investigate the patients and any possible close contacts who might be at risk.
Bane and other local officials stressed that the two cases highlight the need for the community to take seriously the coronavirus as well as the county’s emergency declaration.
“We encourage employers to recognize the severity of this emergency and choose to honor the emergency declaration orders for closure to protect the lives of their staff and customers,” Bane said.
County health officials’ largest concern is the virus being spread to nursing homes that house large numbers of those most at risk of dying from COVID-19.
As of Saturday, the state health department said there were 126 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Indiana. All but one of those are adults.
Nationwide, there are at least 278 deaths and more than 20,000 confirmed cases.
Delaware County Coroner Richard Howell was withholding further information on the patient who died Saturday, pending family notifications.
IU Health BMH officials said that medical teams currently have plans and standard processes in place to treat a potential influx of patients should the need arise.
“We are prepared at all of our hospitals to test for COVID-19, and to provide appropriate isolation conditions for any patients who become ill with the virus and require hospitalization,” hospital officials said in an email. “The situation continues to evolve at a rapid pace, but we have proactively prepared and coordinated our efforts to keep our patients and community safe.”
The DCHD is working closely with local and state officials to ensure that contacts of the patients are identified and that all infection control protocols are being followed.
The first local confirmed case announced on Friday is a male patient who is self-isolating at home, and who will be monitored as necessary by the Delaware County Health Department.
IU Health BMH officials said earlier the Muncie hospital has 379 beds and 36 Intensive Care Unit beds, and this past week declined to disclose exactly how many beds, including those in ICU, were already occupied. Health officials locally and nation- and world-wide have warned of the problem of hospitals filling up as the number of serious coronavirus cases grows rapidly.
According to a release from Delaware County Emergency Management Agency, 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;
- Although rare, fecal contamination.
MORE LOCAL CORONAVIRUS COVERAGE:
►Coronavirus case announced in Delaware County
►How many hospital/ICU beds available in the Muncie area?
►Delaware County expands emergency declaration, business closures because of coronavirus
► Resources available to those in Delaware County facing impacts of coronavirus
►Food: Where to get help in Muncie as organizations change distribution
►Coronavirus has led to blood shortage nationwide; how you can help in and around Muncie
►COVID-19 and homelessness: ‘We are a community and together we are stronger’
►Coronavirus closings, cancellations and changes in Muncie and East Central Indiana
The best way to protect yourself from any respiratory illness, including the flu, is to:
- Wash your hands often w/ soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) 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 Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) provides statewide updates at in.gov/coronavirus as new information becomes available.
Corey Ohlenkamp is the city/county government reporter. Contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 765-213-5874. Follow him on Twitter at @Ohlenkamp.