A total of 77 people have been tested for COVID-19 at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, a hospital official reported Friday.
Of those tests, 11 have come back positive, 34 have been negative and 32 are still pending, said Stephanie Furlow, director of marketing at Schneck.
The cases represent patients who are currently in isolation at the hospital and those who are self-quarantining at home, she said. It also includes patients from other counties who sought treatment at Schneck.
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No further information about the patients will be released, Furlow said.
As of Friday morning, there were more than 86,000 cases of COVID-19 in the United States with 1,301 deaths, which represents a 119% increase since Tuesday.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, Indiana has 981 positive cases and 24 deaths.
The number of patients being tested will continue to go up as more testing becomes available from the state and private third-party labs, Furlow said.
All patients who meet the hospital’s criteria for testing are being tested at this time, she added.
“We have increased our testing, which includes patients with respiratory symptoms, specifically a new cough and fever,” she said.
Starting Friday, Schneck turned its Urgent Care facility in Seymour to a respiratory illness clinic to triage patients. Those with urgent nonrespiratory needs should visit Schneck Primary Care instead.
“We strongly urge individuals to call our coronavirus hotline, which is 812-524-4266 if you have symptoms, fever, cough, difficulty breathing,” said Dr. Eric Fish, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Schneck.
Currently, the hospital is not at capacity and has the ability to accept patients, Furlow said.
To handle an expected surge in COVID-19 cases, however, Schneck is opening an additional five-bed unit at the hospital.
Because the virus can cause serious respiratory illness, some patients require the use of ventilators to help them breathe. Schneck currently has ventilators available for all nine beds in its intensive care unit and seven beds in the moderate adult acute care unit.
The additional five-bed unit also will have ventilators, she said.
Should all of those beds fill up, Furlow said other areas in the facility will be utilized to handle patient overflow. The hospital also is in talks with a local hotel should the need for more rooms and beds arise.
“If needed, we have considered the use of an off-site location for low-risk patients in the event of an influx,” she said.
Efforts to map exposure to the virus in the community are being led by the Jackson County Health Department under the leadership of county health officer and infectious disease specialist Dr. Christopher Bunce.
The health department is following state protocols by conducting investigations into positive cases and reaching out to people who have been in close contact with the patient, assessing them for symptoms and quarantining and monitoring them as needed.
The hospital is tracking all of its employees who have interactions with patients with COVID-19 and continues to monitor and test those employees based on their level of exposure to the patient, Furlow said. More than 60 employees are under a 14-day quarantine due to exposure.
At this time, Schneck and the county health department have not received any federal aid and little state aid to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, said Furlow and Lin Montgomery, public health coordinator with the county health department.
Bunce said the county health department has received a shipment of personal protective equipment, but the supply is limited.
“We have to exhaust it before they even consider giving us some more,” he said. “Our priorities are long-term care facilities, EMS and any first responders, ancillary health care and medical professionals, including the hospital.”
He discourages inappropriate use of supplies like gloves and masks.
“Wearing them outside, which we see some people doing, is not appropriate,” he said. “There is a shortage, so we really want to conserve this equipment for appropriate use and where it’s going to have its greatest impact.”
The best defense for the public against the virus is social distancing, he said.
“We have all the data that supports social distancing does work,” he said. “So as discouraging as these measures seem, I want to reemphasize that it’s still the strongest weapon we have. We have to double down on it.”