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Allen County Health Commissioner: ‘There is COVID-19 in our community’

coronavirus

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA21) - The Allen County Health Commissioner says the novel coronavirus is already here, and that residents should do everything within their power to stop the spread of the virus.

On Sunday, Indiana Health officials released new data that shows the number of positive cases in Indiana jumped to 19.

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In a phone interview conducted Sunday morning, Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan said she is surprised the Indiana Health Department reported no cases of COVID-19 in Allen County.

She says that's because of the criteria for testing is extremely limited.

Testing for COVID-19 is not currently available on-demand or by request. Testing is set aside for those who are hospitalized and meet certain criteria.

Despite the Indiana Department of Health stating there are no positive cases based on their criteria, local health officials say we should remain vigilant.

"There is COVID in our community. It has been here for probably weeks," Dr. McMahan said.

"We need to operate as though it is already here in our community."

One case reported from a surrounding county had been a short-term resident of Allen County for several weeks and was exposed and diagnosed here.

“Because people from many of our neighboring counties come here every day to work, attend events, shop and receive various medical care, it is inevitable we will become aware of additional exposures in our community as the virus spreads,” said Dr.  McMahan said.

“We are working closely with ISDH and the surrounding local health departments to ensure any of our residents potentially exposed are informed and proper steps are taken.”

A resident of another county had been staying at long-term rehabilitation center Englewood Health and Rehab in Fort Wayne.

That patient tested positive for COVID-19, but because the patient resides in another county, the state department of health reported the case to be from that other county.

Dr. McMahan said if you visited the facility since March 9, your risk is extremely low.

However, she said you should monitor your temperature and call your doctor if you get a fever.

Dr. McMahan said visitors and residents of the facility have received recommendations from health officials on steps they should take based on this exposure.

"This is an extreme hardship for them because we've had to quarantine a significant number of their staff, but the residents are still there and need care," Dr. McMahan.

Allen County residents who are exposed to known confirmed cases of COVID-19 are asked to quarantine at home for 14 days and monitor themselves for fever, cough and other symptoms.

Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of those exposed to see if they become sick.

Household contacts and family members of people quarantined can go about their normal business but should self-monitor for fever or other symptoms and call their doctor if any develop.

Anyone with a fever of 100 degrees F AND a cough should first call their healthcare provider to discuss their symptoms and determine the next course of action. 

The following local healthcare providers have set up specific screening for COVID-19:

  • Fort Wayne Medical Education patients should call 260-423-2675
  • IU Health patients should download the telemedicine application IU Health Virtual Visit and follow directions OR call 260-234-5400
  • Lutheran Health patients should call 260-435-5050
  • Parkview patients should call 1-877-PPG-TODAY or their specific provider; Parkview has also set up a self-screening website at Parkview.com/covid19screening
  • Neighborhood Health Clinic patients should call 260-458-2570

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Kayla Crandall

Kayla Crandall is an Emmy award-winning journalist. She serves as the Social Media and Digital Content Manager at WPTA. Follow her on Twitter @KaylerJayne.

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