Editor’s note: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal is not to alarm you but to equip you with the information you need. We will try to keep things in context and focus on helping you make decisions. See a list of resources and frequently asked questions at the end of this story.
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana reported 34 new coronavirus deaths Tuesday, marking the largest single-day jump in the state’s death toll, and health officials warned that the worst is yet to come.
The Indiana State Department of Health reported an additional 568 cases, increasing the state’s total number of people infected to 5,507. It said 173 people have died. Franklin County, near Cincinnati, reported its seventh death.
Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, said Indiana’s coronavirus deaths have not peaked. She compared the virus deaths that have happened just since March 10 to the average number of people who die of flu in Indiana every year — about 150 over a seven-month period.
Governor Holcomb provides updates in the fight against #COVID19.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said residents must follow the statewide stay-at-home order, which will continue through at least April 20 under a two-week extension he signed Monday.
“We just reported on 34 fatalities today,” Holcomb said during Tuesday’s briefing from the governor’s office. “Make a list of your 34 best friends, and then imagine putting a line through them. That’s how serious this is.”
Indiana’s coronavirus deaths include 11 residents of the Bethany Pointe Health Campus in Anderson. Box said Tuesday that four deaths had occurred at another Madison County long-term care facility, along with four at a facility in Johnson County near Indianapolis and three at one in southern Indiana’s Lawrence County.
The health department is sending teams to nursing homes around the state in an attempt to stem further outbreaks and has sent additional testing kits to Bethany Pointe, Box said.
Box has projected that Indiana’s peak of coronavirus illnesses could last into mid-May. The high percentage of smokers and elderly residents in Indiana means the state has a higher risk than elsewhere.
Indiana’s latest reported deaths ranged in ages from 37 to 97 and most occurred between Saturday and Monday, she said.
“I want to brace you to see them increase as we get closer to the peak of this disease,” Box said.
Marion County, which includes Indianapolis, had the most new COVID-19 cases, at 193, raising its total to 2,141 — or about 39% of Indiana’s total. Northwestern Indiana’s Lake County had 52 new cases, followed by central Indiana’s Madison County, with 34 new cases, and 27 new cases in Hendricks County, just west of Indianapolis.
Indianapolis officials announced tests have confirmed 11 more city emergency workers as ill with COVID-19 over the past four days, bringing the total to 48. Those include 20 police officers, 21 firefighters and seven emergency medical service staffers, with eight of those first responders having been cleared to return to work.
Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:
- Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
- See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.
- State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
- See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.
- SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail email@example.com
- See more information for coronavirus in Indiana here.
What is coronavirus, COVID-19?
According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).
A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 37 locations across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.
The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.
What are the symptoms? How does it spread?
Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.
The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.
Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.
The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.