Indiana announces first coronavirus case, health emergency declared

Updated: Mar. 6, 2020 at 11:41 AM EST
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INDIANAPOLIS (FOX19/WFIE) - Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Friday that Indiana has its first case of coronavirus.

Health officials say the patient, who is in Marion County, is stable and is in self-isolation.

The patient had recently traveled to Boston and reported symptoms authorities when they returned to Indianapolis on March 4.

“This individual had developed a sore throat, low-grade fever, and a cough. He realized from his work that there may have been exposure and was watching for those symptoms,” Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana Department of Health Commissioner, said.

The person was told to go to the hospital and stayed in the parking lot.

Authorities wore special gear and quarantined the patient in a negative airflow room.

Health officials confirmed people at the hospital are safe and there is no risk of infection.

“The patient and the hospital did everything possible to limit the exposure to individuals," Dr. Box said.

The patient will remain in isolation for 14 days and will not be released until specimens taken two consecutive days at the end of that period test negative for COVID-19.

Gov. Holcomb also declared a public health emergency in order to get federal funding.

“With the help of our federal, state and local partners, Indiana is responding to this case as we have planned and prepared for weeks,” Gov. Holcomb said. “The Hoosier who has been diagnosed has taken responsible steps to stay isolated.”

Human coronaviruses most commonly spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Respiratory droplets released into the air by coughing and sneezing;
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands;
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands; and
  • Rarely, fecal contamination.

Health officials say if you feel you’ve been exposed to COVID-19 and are experiencing symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath, call your primary care provider to be triaged and get tested.

The best way to protect yourself from any respiratory illness, including the flu, is to:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.


The CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it.

A facemask should be used by people who have COVID-19 and are showing symptoms to protect others from the risk of infection.

Copyright 2020 WXIX. All rights reserved. WFIE contributed to this report.