Indiana County Health Department Leading Coronavirus Task Force

The task force will consist of representatives from law enforcement, EMS, Madison County Emergency Management, local hospitals, businesses and elected officials. The H1N1 virus outbreak took place in the county in 2009.

by Ken de la Bastide, The Herald Bulletin, Anderson, Ind. / March 10, 2020
AP

(TNS) — The Madison County Health Department is heading up a task force in the event the coronavirus, or COVID-19, appears in the county.

Stephenie Grimes, administrator for the Madison County Health Department, said Monday the county agency is enhancing the infectious disease plan that has already been developed.

There are no cases reported in Madison County, Grimes said.

She said the task force will consist of representatives from law enforcement, emergency medical services, Madison County Emergency Management, local hospitals, businesses and elected officials.

Grimes said the last major flu outbreak took place in Madison County in 2009 with the H1N1 virus.

“We need to come together in the same room when the Health Department receives the weekly update from the Indiana State Department of Health,” she said. “We want to have a coordinated response.”

Eventually the plan that is developed will be provided to a larger group of local elected officials.

“We need to have a dialogue and share information,” Grimes said. “This is more aggressive than our flu response.”

Despite reports that anyone can be tested, she said, there are only 900 coronavirus test kits in Indiana and are being used under certain criteria.

Grimes said the criteria continue to be risk of contracting the coronavirus and travel to certain countries.

“We’re likely to see an increase in the coronavirus statewide over the next few weeks,” she said.

Grimes said the local hospitals and doctors have guidelines established by the Indiana State Health Department.

“The protocol is to contact the local and state health departments,” she said.

Grimes said the State Health Department is encouraging people over spring break to stay home and minimize contact in the community.

“We want people to limit community exposure,” she said.

In a press release, the Indiana State Department of Health says it has identified several presumptive positive cases of the coronavirus around the state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that individual risk of contracting the virus is dependent on exposure.

The majority of illnesses are mild, but the CDC said older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, or lung disease, and those with weakened immune systems are at greater risk.

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