Local officials expect increase in reported COVID-19 numbers

Posted April 23, 2020

In response to public questions and comments from the Huntington community, the Huntington County Health Department on Thursday released the following COVID-19 information.

Case count

The Health Department cautions local residents that Huntington County is likely to see a spike of reported COVID-19 cases in the coming days. Public health officials also expect to see an increase statewide.

This is because the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) now requires that healthcare providers and hospitals report clinical cases, in which an individual’s symptoms support a COVID-19 diagnosis without a positive test.

Previously, only confirmed cases with a positive COVID-19 test were included in numbers state officials recorded.

Deaths

As a result of the new clinical case reporting requirements, it is likely the number of reported deaths locally and statewide could see an increase as well.

“This doesn’t mean that the count will necessarily go up,” Huntington County Public Health Nurse Emily Schamehorn said, “but this is a possibility that we want our residents to be aware of.”

As of Thursday afternoon, two Huntington County residents who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.

Both were individuals over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk for severe complications of COVID-19, the county Health Department reported.

Testing

An interactive ISDH map found at coronavirus.in.gov listed 153 individuals tested in Huntington County as of Thursday afternoon. The county Health Department, however, stated that does not reflect the full number of individuals tested in the county.

This is because early in the pandemic not all outside labs reported negative test results. ISDH has since required all labs to report both positive and negative test results.

Testing is primarily available through your healthcare provider, who will direct you to the best place to be examined for COVID-19.

The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough and headache. If you experience these symptoms you are advised to stay home, isolate yourself in one room and call your healthcare provider.

If you do not have a primary care provider, you can call the Lutheran Hospital COVID-19 hotline at (260) 435-5050 or the Parkview Physicians Group at (877) 774-8632.

The Huntington County Health Department does not conduct its own testing. The department will release updates on new testing locations, such as the drive-thru location at Ivy Tech in Fort Wayne that was open earlier this week, as they become available.

Precautions

Although Huntington County’s official case count has remained steady at six cases for about the last two weeks, this does not mean that there is not COVID-19 circulating here and in surrounding areas, said Schamehorn, the public health nurse.

“We all need to stay vigilant and continue to practice social distancing,” she said.

When leaving your home for necessary supplies, outdoor exercise or to care for others, Schamehorn advises the following precautions:

  • Wear a homemade cloth face covering that covers your nose and mouth.
  • Maintaining a distance of at least six feet from others.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol and rub until dry.
  • Do not touch your face with unwashed hands.
  • Clean high touch surfaces frequently.

“With all of that being said, we would like to thank the residents of Huntington County,” Schamehorn said. “Thank you for all of your hard work with handmade masks. Thank you for all of your donations. Most of all thank you for staying home. We will get through this together.”


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