BY: DAVID SHEPHERD, NEWS DIRECTOR
STATEWIDE -- Health officials in Indiana are monitoring 26 people for possible coronavirus, state officials have announced.
The Hoosiers have not tested positive but are being monitored due to their history of travel or contact with someone who traveled to an affected country.
The state will stop monitoring them once they've gone two weeks with no sign of the virus. An additional 34 travelers have already been cleared.
State Health Commissioner Kris Box says three of those 34 did have symptoms, but tests showed it was an unrelated bug.
The state has instituted the same preparedness plan it used over the last decade for outbreaks of bird flu and the MERS virus, conducting weekly webinars and reaching out to hospitals and local health departments. If Indiana starts to see cases of coronavirus being transmitted from person to person, rather than contracted overseas, Box says the state would issue further recommendations, urging people to stay away from others until they recover.
The CDC says the immediate risk at this time is low for Americans who do not have risk factors, such as travel to an impacted area or contact with a person who has had recent travel to China or other affected countries. However, the CDC has urged Americans to begin thinking about steps they would take if their daily lives are disrupted.
“This is a time to plan, not to panic,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “The situation with this novel coronavirus is changing rapidly, and I know that can cause concern because we don’t have all the answers yet. What we do have, however, is a plan for how to respond if and when COVID-19 comes to Indiana.”
ISDH is working with state, local and federal partners to refine existing pandemic response strategies, which include specific measures to prepare communities to respond to local transmission of the virus.
“Indiana has responded to pandemics before, and we have many tools to keep Hoosiers safe,” Box said. “While we can’t predict which measures might be necessary, we have trained in their use and can deploy these strategies quickly if the need arises.”
State health officials urge Hoosiers to take common-sense steps to keep from contracting coronavirus. Those steps include washing your hands often, cover your cough and stay home when you are sick.
Coronavirus is five-to-10 times deadlier than flu, though that still means it's fatal in just two-percent of all cases. Box says 80-percent of the cases have been mild.