The first positive case of 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has been identified in a Henry County resident.

"A patient was tested at an out-of-county facility and results were received by Henry County Health Department March 26," said Angela Cox, RN, Health Department Administrator. "The patient was tested last week at that facility. A presumptive positive test was returned for COVID-19. The patient is doing well and symptom free at this time." 

Cox said the Henry County Health Department is not releasing any identifying information about the patient at this time.

She said the Henry County Health Department is following the same process they would use with other communicable diseases, like measles.

"The Health Department is conducting a Communicable Disease Investigation," Cox said. "We will be speaking with anyone identified as a close contact in this as well as any future cases and will give them further direction. To protect all patient's privacy, we will not be releasing any protected personal health information such as age."

The Communicable Disease Investigation includes looking at where the person has been and whom they might have been around. The next step will be to contact people who are considered to be a "close contact" to the person and could have been exposed.

According to Cox, a "close contact" is someone who was: living in the same household while the person was symptomatic; caring for a person with COVID-19 while the person was symptomatic; being within 6 feet of a person with COVID-19 for about 10 minutes or longer while the person was symptomatic; or being in direct contact with respiratory secretions from a person with COVID-19 while the person was symptomatic (e.g., being coughed on, kissing, sharing utensils, etc.).

By the numbers

As of Thursday afternoon, Henry Community Health had collected 44 samples to test for COVID-19. Twenty-five samples have returned negative, and the hospital is still waiting for the other 19 results.

Henry County healthcare professionals are ready to treat people who may experience severe symptoms caused by a coronavirus infection.

According to an HCH spokesperson, Henry Community Health is licensed for 90 beds and currently has 12 ventilators. Two of those machines are on loan from the New Castle Ivy Tech campus.

"At Henry Community Health we continue to prepare for the possibility of a surge of patients," said Brook Cowan, RN, Infection Preventionist at Henry Community Health. "We would like to thank the community for their generosity. Items like the donation of two ventilators from Ivy Tech New Castle, masks from local schools and businesses as well as masks being handmade by local crafters are so appreciated." 

Henry County residents can also help the hospital by participating in upcoming blood drives. A third drive has been scheduled for April 2 at Forest Ridge Medical Pavilion. The blood drive will be run by Versiti. According to HCH, the Versiti staff are prepared to help donors maintain social distancing and sanitizing their mobile unit. Sign up at donorpoint.org.

The Henry County hospital is asking everyone to continue staying at least 6 feet away from other people and using correct handwashing practices.

Hospital staff ask people to stay home if they are experiencing mild respiratory symptoms.

However, if your symptoms worsen and you feel you need to be seen, call the HCH Respiratory Clinic at 599-3443 for an appointment.