Hospital provides COVID-19 community update

7 + 3

That’s the rule Dr. Christopher Bunce, county health officer and infectious disease specialist with Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, said people who have COVID-19 need to follow when coming out of isolation.

Seven is the number of days from the onset of symptoms plus an additional three days without fever and an improvement in respiratory symptoms before it’s OK to be around other people again, he said.

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The rule is important because the hospital and health department are not using test results as criteria for removing people from isolation, Bunce said.

“That has unproven value even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended it early on,” Bunce said.

Because of the limited amount of testing available and questions about what a positive test really means, it is not possible to retest everyone to see if the virus is still active.

“It proved unworkable in terms of the amount of testing, and there are some questions as to what a positive test means,” he said. “It certainly does not necessarily mean that the patient still has a viable virus, and it does not mean necessarily that they are infectious.”

Schneck’s respiratory clinic, which opened March 27 in the Schneck Urgent Care office at 1130 Medical Place in Seymour, remains open and has tested 225 patients for COVID-19, said Dr. Eric Fish, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Schneck. Of those tested, 60 tests have come back positive, 115 have been negative and 48 are still pending.

Anyone experiencing a fever, cough and difficulty breathing or who believes they have been exposed to the virus should call the Schneck Coronavirus Hotline at 812-524-4266 for information and instructions on what they should do, Fish said.

By looking at different models that predict when the COVID-19 pandemic will be the worst in Indiana and Kentucky, Fish said the information indicates that Seymour is still about two weeks away from that peak.

“We still fully expect to continue to see a surge of COVID-19 patients,” he said.

According to numbers released by the Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday, Jackson County now has 74 confirmed cases, an increase of four from the previous day.

Statewide, 440 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories.

That brings to 8,955 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus.

A total of 436 Hoosiers have died to date, up 49 from Tuesday. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by ISDH and occurred over multiple days.

Jackson County still has yet to report a death related to the virus.

To date, 48,396 tests have been reported to ISDH, up 2,379 from Tuesday. A total of 306 residents of Jackson County have been reported as tested. That’s an increase of 12 from Tuesday.

Although many nursing homes and extended care facilities across the state and country are seeing outbreaks of COVID-19, that hasn’t been the case in Jackson County.

Covered Bridge Health Campus and Lutheran Community Home, both in Seymour, and Hoosier Christian Village in Brownstown have reported no COVID-19 illness in residents or staff so far.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t prepared to handle it if they do get a case. All three facilities have created isolation units and are making more beds available for sick residents.

When it comes to essential businesses continuing to operate during the pandemic, including Lannett, a pharmaceutical company in Seymour, there are questions as to how employees who are showing symptoms or who have been exposed to a co-worker who tested positive can get tested quickly to make sure it’s OK for them to be at work.

“There seems to be an essential workforce consisting of around maybe 2,000 or more workers that can probably benefit from some type of drive-thru testing,” said Jessica Nierman, administrative services supervisor for Lannett. “We’re trying to figure out how to get quicker testing results for the essential workers.”

Bunce said the county health department has not received testing kits and that all testing is being conducted by Schneck on “appropriate, symptomatic patients.”

Any essential worker who is showing symptoms should visit the Schneck respiratory clinic to be tested, Fish said.

The turnaround time for testing results is four to five days with a quicker return for patients admitted to the hospital, he said. But that’s much quicker than the nine to 11 days when the pandemic started.

“I think testing has become more available over the last few weeks,” he said. “But those patients without symptoms would not qualify. If you need any help getting your employees tested that are symptomatic, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’ll help facilitate that the best we can.”

A negative test doesn’t mean the patient doesn’t have COVID-19, Bunce said. It could be the test just didn’t capture the disease and it was a false positive.

Regardless of whether a test is positive or negative, if the patient is sick and has a fever, they should not return to work, Bunce said.

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The Schneck Coronavirus Hotline is available by calling 812-524-4266.