Gov. Eric Holcomb

Gov. Eric Holcomb addresses Hoosiers during a live-streamed video on Monday.

Cass County has had its first confirmed case of the COVID-19 virus through a positive test, according to a press release issued by the Cass County Health Department, in consultation with the Indiana State Department of Health and Logansport Memorial Hospital.

Memorial Hospital notified the Cass County Health Department and the Indiana State Department of Health on Monday of the positive result from a patient, who is currently self-isolating at home.

No other information will be released about the patient at this time, due to privacy laws.

LMH said in the statement that its providers and staff took all appropriate precautions in every part of the patient’s testing process, to protect other patients, staff members, and themselves in accordance with CDC guidelines.

“We knew it wasn’t a matter of ‘if.’ It was a matter of ‘when,’” said Logansport Mayor Chris Martin.

The city and county have been proactive, though, with the launch of the hospital’s testing program for COVID-19 at the Cass County Fairgrounds and the City Building’s closure to visitors. For now, things won’t change from the precautions already put in place.

“The way it’s been is the way it’s going to be for the next few weeks,” Martin said.

However, people listening to precautions and maintaining social distancing will determine how many weeks it will continue. The longer people go out instead of stay in, the longer such measures are likely to go on.

President Donald Trump has also extended his stay-at-home directive into May.

Cass County Commissioners President Jim Sailor also said that it won’t mean an immediate change.

“We’re still in the orange,” he said, referring to the emergency level status. He didn’t know what would put the county at red alert — the highest level — or what that could mean. He was also unsure about what county government meetings would still happen in April, but those are still a few days away.

“The health department is doing what it’s supposed to do, and people are doing what they can. I don’t know what else you can ask,” Sailor said.

According to Cass County Health Officer Dr. Dori Ditty, “We are fully engaged and actively working to protect the health of citizens in Cass County. We are working with local and state officials to ensure that contacts of the patient are identified and appropriately monitored, using infection prevention protocols from the CDC to reduce the risk of illness and additional exposure in Cass County.”

Cass County’s COVID-19 walk-in respiratory clinic is located in the Community Building at the Cass County 4-H Fairgrounds, 2281 E Co Road 125 N in Logansport, IN 46947. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The respiratory clinic does not have a waiting room. If there is a wait time, patients will be asked to wait in their cars for precautionary isolation.

Patients should expect that they could be in their car for an extended amount of time until they can be seen, if the clinic is busy.

In the press release, Cass County Health Department Administrator Serenity Alter added, “Logansport Memorial has restricted visitation and access to the hospital and in all physician offices and clinics, as well as implemented new clinical policies for using a limited supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).”

State update

With 35 Hoosier deaths and over 1,700 cases in the state, state officials still warn of a looming surge within the next few weeks and also plan to expand the capacity of state hospitals for critical care.

The officials also revised their estimate that the pandemic will peak at mid-April, saying that it would peak mid-April to mid-May.

“We believe that Indiana’s (COVID-19) patient surge will begin soon,” Jennifer Sullivan, the Secretary of the Family and Social Services Administration, said. “Every hospital and hospital system in Indiana has been working on a surge plan… we’re helping to streamline those plans and facilitate communication at unprecedented levels.”

Sullivan said the baseline number of beds for the state was 1,432 but increased 35% to 1,940 by expanding into other wings, floors and even operating rooms at specific hospitals. The baseline for ventilators, equipment to help the most critically ill patients breathe, was 1,177 on March 1.

“Based on the surge models we have, our goal is to double critical care capacity for the number of ventilators,” Sullivan said.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is also desperately needed as health care professional reuse masks and gowns for several patients, risking their effectiveness

Businesses or private citizens with PPE to donate are encouraged to reach out at covidresponse@iedc.in.gov.

Additionally, the state identified alternative care facilities, such as rehabilitation facilities, to be used in a potential surge. The Indiana National Guard and the Department of Homeland Security can build short-term facilities with a 72-hour notice.

In terms of personnel, the state licensing board asked all medical clinicians, such as dental hygienists, to volunteer their skills and received 5,300 affirmative answers to volunteer.

Monday’s executive orders will remove regulatory barriers for surge capacity expansion, expand and clarify the prohibition of elective surgeries and temporarily authorize the pool of medical professionals, Holcomb said.

CNHI Statehouse Reporter Whitney Downard contributed to this article.

Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at james.wolf@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5117. Twitter: @JamesDWolfJr

Reach James D. Wolf Jr. at james.wolf@pharostribune.com or 574-732-5117. Twitter: @JamesDWolfJr

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