Emergency workers test positive for virus

A total of three employees of Schneck Medical Center in Seymour and one Seymour police officer have tested positive for COVID-19, according to officials.

Stephanie Furlow, marketing director for Schneck, said Thursday the hospital workers did not contract the virus by being around patients.

“The virus was contracted via community spread,” she said.

Since the outbreak began in March, Schneck has quarantined 70 employees due to having symptoms or knowingly being exposed to someone with COVID-19. That number includes 63 who were quarantined in early March, she said.

At this time, there are just three employees that remain quarantined, she said.

Mayor Matt Nicholson confirmed Friday that Seymour Police Department also had a positive case of COVID-19. The officer was placed in quarantine for the recommended amount of time and since has returned to work, he said.

Nicholson said SPD and all city workers have access to personal protective equipment including face masks and gloves.

On Friday, Dr. Eric Fish, executive vice president and chief operating officer at Schneck, reported the hospital has tested a total of 642 patients for COVID-19 with 131 coming back positive, 416 were negative and 88 tests are still pending. Those results include patients tested at Schneck’s main campus, it’s respiratory clinic and offices in other communities.

Of the 131 positive cases tested at Schneck, 75 are from Jackson County, 29 from Jennings County, 12 from Scott County, six from Washington County, 5 from Bartholomew County and one each from Lawrence, Jefferson, Brown and Clark counties.

The Indiana Department of Health reported a total of 77 positive cases in Jackson County, meaning two people from here were tested in another county.

Dr. Chris Bunce, county health officer with the Jackson County Health Department and infectious disease specialist at Schneck, said the health department has been receiving requests from employers to provide releases allowing people to return to work.

“At this point, the Jackson County Health Department does not have a system in place to serve as a gateway for people to go back to work,” he said. “We have discussed this issue with the state. They are unaware of other county health departments doing this.”

The health department recommends people follow the 7+3 rule at a minimum to come out of self-isolation. That means seven 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.

But even that isn’t a guarantee, he said.

“All of the recommendations are based on an imperfect knowledge of risk after a patient has recovered,” Bunce said. “What we do know is that after they’ve recovered, they are either non-infectious or at greatly reduced infectivity, so that’s why we’ve been adhering to these recommendations rather than a test-based strategy.”

Fish said he expects stay-at-home restrictions to start easing up over the next week or two but cautions people to continue to practice social distancing.

“Please keep in mind that coronavirus will not have gone away by then,” he said. “It’s still going to be very important to socially distance and limit gatherings so we can help prevent a resurgence of this and a second wave.”