The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is urging Hoosiers to take common-sense steps to prepare for the possibility that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) gains a more significant foothold in the United States.
Indiana has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, and no one in the state is suspected of being infected at this time. To date, ISDH has worked with local health departments to monitor nearly 60 travelers by guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The number of people being monitored fluctuates as individuals complete the 14-day monitoring period. Currently, 26 individuals are being monitored in Indiana due to their history of travel or contact with an individual who has traveled to an affected country.
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.”
COVID-19 is a new illness caused by a coronavirus that had not been previously identified. This virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, and has since spread globally. It is thought to be spread mainly person-to-person between people in close contact (within 6 feet) when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms include cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
Because there is no vaccine and no treatment for COVID-19, these steps primarily focus on staying home and mitigating the risk of community exposure should it become necessary.
To help prevent the virus, Hoosiers can practice everyday prevention measures, which include washing your hands frequently, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home if you are sick and disinfecting high-touch surfaces.