Despite no confirmed cases, local hospitals and health departments prepare for coronavirus

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.—As of Tuesday morning, no cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Michiana but local hospitals and health departments are preparing for the possible spread of the virus anyways.

Beacon Health System said Tuesday that it is preparing for the arrival of patients who may test positive for COVID-19, more commonly known as coronavirus, asking that anyone who suspects they might have been in contact or traveled to a place hit by the infection to call their doctor before coming in.

“For most people, exposure to the virus does not pose a significant threat,” said Sam El-Dalati, MD, Beacon’s Chief Clinical Officer in a press release. “If exposed, most people will recover from this virus at home. The elderly and those with underlying health conditions, however, may experience greater difficulty.”

The St. Joseph County Health Department is expected to share more information about coronavirus preparation on Thursday but the department has said that there are currently no confirmed cases in St. Joseph County.

In Elkhart, health department officials said the illness is mild in over 80% of infected people.

Elkhart County health officials recommend the following to combat the possible spread of the virus:

  • Practice hand hygiene
  • Practice respiratory etiquette (i.e. covering mouth when coughing)
  • Stay home when sick
  • Routinely clean frequently touched surfaces

According to the CDC, symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure and can range from mild to severe.

The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China and some link it to a large seafood and live animal market, the CDC said.

Cases in the United States have been reported from Washington state, where a long-term nursing home became the epicenter of the state’s outbreak, all the way to Rhode Island.

For more information about the coronavirus in the United States, visit the CDC's website.

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