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Governor: Indiana schools closed until May 1 to stop spread of COVID-19

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Posted at 12:54 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 20:47:40-04

INDIANAPOLIS — All Indiana schools will be closed until May 1 in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Eric Holcomb said on Thursday.

Holcomb and the Indiana State Department of Health held a press conference Thursday to discuss COVID-19 across the state.

Watch the full press conference in the player below:

All Indiana public school districts had already decided to close or shift to online classwork, but Holcomb said Thursday he was ordering that closure and extending it to private K-12 schools.

Holcomb says the order keeping schools closed until May will be reviewed in the coming weeks and could be extended longer.

Holcomb has also signed orders aimed at easing applications for unemployment benefits and delaying the deadline for state income tax payments until July 15.

At the time this article was published, there were 67 confirmed cases and two deaths in the state, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Find more coronavirus/COVID-19 hotlines and resources below:

Ohio

  • Department of Health COVID-19 hotline: 833-4-ASK-ODH
  • See ODH’s COVID-19 resources here.

Kentucky

  • State COVID-19 hotline: 1-800-722-5725
  • See the Cabinet for Health and Family Services coronavirus resource site here.

Indiana

  • SDH Epidemiology Resource Center: (317) 233-7125 or (317) 233-1325 after hours, or e-mail epiresource@isdh.in.gov
  • 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, but it can be spread even at asymptomatic stages.