County records first COVID-19 case

By Joseph Slacian

Wabash County has its first reported case of the COVID-19 virus.

Officials from the Wabash County Health Department announced the positive test on Friday morning, March 27.

“We need to continue to take this highly contagious virus seriously, but also realize that 80 percent of COVID-19 patients have mild symptoms and recover,” department officials said in a news release. “The Wabash County Health Department is working closely with the local and state officials to ensure that contacts of the patient are identified and monitored and that all infection control protocols are being followed.

“The patient is self-isolating at home. No additional information about the patient will be released due to privacy laws.”

Mayor Scott Long, who is serving as the county’s Public Information Officer during the pandemic, urged people not to panic because of the finding.

“Keep doing what you are doing to protect yourself, stay home, and make a shopping list to get you through the week if you need to shop for essentials,” he told The Paper of Wabash County. “Maintain as much distance from others as possible, keep an eye on the children in your family and make them stay home and not run the streets.

“You have no idea who has been in direct contact with a person who is positive, but may not be showing symptoms. Take this virus seriously and take all recommended precautions to protect yourself.”

The Paper has tried to determine who many COVID-19 tests have been performed in Wabash County and if Parkview Wabash Hospital has enough tests available.

Long referred that question to health department officials. Health department officials referred the question to Parkview.

“These numbers are no public information,” according to Tami Brigle, Public Relations Manager for Parkview Health, told The Paper in an email over the weekend.

The Paper, in a follow-up email, asked why the numbers were not public information.

“Public health agencies, such as health departments, are subject to different public information requirements than hospitals,” Brigle replied. “the number of patients tested for suspected COVID-19 isn’t something we are required to disclose.

“The number of tests performed may not portray an accurate picture of the number of suspected cases, due to the limited availability of supplies.”

Parkview Wabash President Marilyn Custer-Mitchell added, “this number is changing daily, sometimes hourly, as various patients present.”

Statewide, as of Monday morning, there were 11,658 tests performed that showed 1,786 positive cases of COVID-19. The total number of deaths reported were 35.

Marion County has the largest number of confirmed cases, 804, while Hamilton County had 106 reported cases.

All the counties surrounding Wabash County also have at least one reported case. Grant County has seven reported cases, while Kosciusko County has four, Miami County three, Huntington County two and Whitley County one.

Because of the coronavirus, Parkview Wabash his made several changes to help conserve resources and personnel necessary to meet the emerging health needs related to the pandemic.

The main entrance at Parkview Wabash Hospital is now closed to the public, hospital officials said in a news release. All patients, and visitors who are allowed as exceptions under the current no-visitor visitation restriction policy, should use the hospital’s emergency entrance.

As a reminder, no visitors are currently allowed at Parkview Wabash Hospital, with the following limited exceptions:

Family Birthing Center: One authorized adult visitor for duration of patient’s stay

Pediatric patients: One authorized adult visitor for duration of patient’s stay

Emergency Department: One authorized parent/guardian per pediatric patient for duration
of patient’s stay

Exceptions for end-of-life/compassionate care will be authorized on an individual basis. Authorized visitors will continue to be identified with a wristband provided to them by hospital staff. No visitors are permitted in any of the waiting areas.

Staff members stationed at the emergency entrance will take the temperature of each person as they enter the building.

Fever of more than 100 degrees has been shown to be one of the possible symptoms of COVID-19.

Valet parking service is currently unavailable, but staff members are positioned in the parking lot to provide assistance to patients as needed.

At all FirstCare Walk-In Clinics and Parkview Physicians Group clinic locations, no visitors will be permitted except for the parent/guardian of a minor or a patient caregiver.

Parkview Health previously announced the suspension of elective and non-urgent procedures at nearly all facilities. Patients whose surgeries need to be postponed will be contacted.

New scheduling of screening tests – such as mammograms, HeartSmart CT and LungSmart CT – as well as most outpatient testing, has been temporarily halted to make sure resources are available for patients undergoing urgent/medically necessary surgeries and other hospitalized patients.

Custer-Mitchell said morale among the staff members is “great.”

“They are dedicated, compassionate and here to care for others,” she continued. “We are making sure they are staying safe and protecting themselves while they provide care.

“With the first confirmed case in the county, we all need to take social distancing and stay-at-home directives very seriously. Do your part to help mitigate the spread of the virus.”

In another development, Long announced on Saturday that effective immediately Wabash City Hall was closed until at least April 7.

“Should the State of Indiana, through order of Gov. Holcomb, extend the stay at home order, the City of Wabash will follow that direction,” he said in a news release. “At this time, all essential functions of City Hall can be completed remotely, and phone calls to our main City Hall number, 563-4171, will be answered by voicemail, personnel will monitor the voicemail and return calls as soon as practical. I recommend that email be used predominantly for inquiries, as these are typically monitored in real time remotely.”

All city departments have been instructed in precautionary measures in regards to working safely, and as such will remain working and performing critical functions.

“This is a time of unknowns for all of us, and I am taking these steps to ensure the safety and security of City hall personnel and their families,” Long said.


Posted on 2020 Mar 31