Coronavirus roundup for March 16th: First Bartholomew County case, County task force update, Gov. Holcomb addresses bars, restaurants

Bartholomew County Health Department

Bartholomew County Residents,

Bartholomew County Health officials were notified Sunday evening, confirmation of a COVID-19 positive case of a hospital inpatient at Columbus Regional Health. As planned and prepared for, Columbus Regional Health and Bartholomew County Health Department continue following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Indiana State Department of Health for the care of this patient and the protocols for healthcare staff and community contacts as identified. Health officials are conducting the appropriate investigative protocols.

This COVID-19 case appears to be a community-acquired spread, as the patient did not have travel history or clinical contact link. The patient is in stable condition in an isolation room and all care staff are utilizing the proper personal protective equipment.

Indiana State Department of Health: State’s first COVID-19 death

Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb and the Indiana State Department of Health  today announced the first Indiana death from COVID-19. The patient is a Marion County adult.

“A family today is suffering the ultimate loss due to COVID-19, and this sadly underscores how severe the virus can be – especially for some high-risk Hoosiers,” Gov. Holcomb said. “The state is taking unprecedented actions to slow the spread of COVID-19, and every Hoosier should follow the precautionary measures.”

The adult from Marion County died at a Community Health Network hospital on Monday morning. The person, who was over age 60, had been hospitalized as a COVID-19 patient and also suffered from underlying medical conditions. No further information will be released about the patient or the case.

“I cannot stress this enough – if you are ill, stay home. If you need to seek medical care, call ahead so that your healthcare provider can take steps to protect others from exposure to COVID-19,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “We all have a role to play to protect Hoosiers from this illness, and the time to act is now.”

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness caused by a novel, or new, coronavirus that has not been previously identified. It is not the same as the type of coronavirus that causes the common cold. To date, 24 Hoosiers across 13 counties have received presumptive positive tests for COVID-19. All but one are adults.

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 and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands; and
  • Rarely, fecal contamination.

Many people who acquire COVID-19 will have mild symptoms, can self-isolate and do not need to be tested. Older individuals and those with underlying medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness.

The best ways to protect yourself are to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face with unwashed hands, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you’re sick, cover your cough or sneeze and 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.

For a list of counties with positive cases, visit ISDH’s online dashboard at The dashboard will be updated daily at 10 a.m. and will reflect results received through midnight. The website also includes guidance and a list of frequently asked questions.

Bartholomew County COVID-19 Task Force

On behalf of the municipal governments of Columbus and Bartholomew County, Indiana we issue the following statement.

  • In an effort to keep our community safe by following the recommended response guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and the Indiana State Health Department, the City of Columbus and Bartholomew County are recommending a more stringent proactive response to the COVID-19 virus.
  • Our community’s strongest defense is to promote social distancing. It is important for community members to avoid gatherings, especially of moderate or large groups in public places.
  • Current recommendations from the CDC are that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the U.S.
  • Therefore based on these recommendations and proven preventative measures, the City of Columbus and Bartholomew County strongly recommend that organizations and businesses consider cancelling or postponing gatherings of 50 or more.
  • Please keep in mind that the suggestion of ’50’ is an estimate, designed to limit the risk of transmitting the virus. If an organization has within its group a larger representation of people with risk factors (age over 60, or heart, respiratory or auto-immune issues) the limit should be less than 50.
  • Organizations should consider moving those interactions to ways of connecting through phone or digital means.
  • We also recommend the closing of any indoor public places and encouraging restaurants and bars to convert to take-out, drive-thru or delivery options.

Again, it is imperative that we, as a community, take whatever measures possible to prevent further spread of the COVID-19 virus. We realize these actions pose an inconvenience to many businesses and members of our community. Difficult decisions such as this are taken with the upmost care and concern for our citizens and for our healthcare system as it continues to prioritize care and medical resources to best handle this situation.

CRH suspending elective surgeries

Columbus Regional Health suspends all elective surgeries and procedures in Surgical Services, Endoscopy Center and Outpatient Cath Lab as addition to COVID-19 response efforts.

Due to the mandates put out by the Governor’s Office of Indiana and backed by the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and other clinical governing agencies, Columbus Regional Hospital has made the decision to cancel all elective, non-urgent surgeries and procedures as of Monday, March 16, 2020.

This measure is to meet the health needs of potential COVID-19 patients, protect against exposure and further potential spread, and to ensure that medical resources are readily available. A team of physicians, including surgical management at Columbus Regional Health, has developed a process for determining on a case-by-case basis which procedures meet criteria. Each patient need is unique and will be coordinated on an individual basis.

These efforts are geared toward the safety of our workforce and our community at large. Patients with scheduled surgeries and/or procedures will be contacted by their physician offices. Those with other questions are encouraged follow up with their physician or surgeon office directly.

Gov. Holcomb announces further measures to fight spread of virus

In a continuing effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Governor Eric J. Holcomb has announced additional efforts.

Here are additional directives from Governor Holcomb.

  • Indiana will adhere to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for large events and mass gatherings. The guidance recommends no in-person events of more than 50 people. Here is a link to the guidance:
  • Under the current guidance for schools, 273 public school districts are closed, using e-learning days, or on spring break and have announced a future closure. The Department of Education is working with the remaining 16 school corporations to determine their next steps and needs
  • Bars, nightclubs and restaurants are required to close to in-person patrons and may provide take-out and delivery services through the end of March
  • Hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers should cancel and/or postpone elective and non-urgent surgical procedures immediately. This action will help the healthcare system conserve resources and personnel necessary to meet emerging health needs
    • Physicians should continue to perform critical procedures necessary to prevent short-term and/or long-term adverse effects to their patients’ overall health
  • The state’s Emergency Operations Center has been raised to a Level 1 status and will work in conjunction with the incident command center at the Indiana State Department of Health for planning, coordination, predictive analysis and other functions
  • State employees will maximize the use of remote work and meet virtually whenever possible while maintaining operations. Non-essential in-person meetings will be limited to 10 persons or less and should meet virtually whenever possible. High-risk individuals should not attend meetings in person
  • State employees over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions are advised to work from home, and agencies should identify work that can be accomplished remotely for those individuals
  • The Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, which are closed on Mondays, will close to the public beginning Tuesday
  • The visitors center at White River State Park will close
  • Indiana state parks and recreation centers, including state park inns, remain open. Restaurants will convert operations to take-out and delivery
  • State agencies already are developing remote work plans for employees and will continue to implement them while maintaining necessary state services. Employees who work outdoors are encouraged to practice social distancing
  • The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has suspended rules requiring certain unemployment insurance claimants to physically appear at a Work One location to engage in reemployment services for the next four weeks. This will ensure that individuals who may be symptomatic do not have to physically appear to continue their unemployment insurance eligibility
    • The DWD will also request flexibility under federal and state law to expand eligibility for claimants and ease burdens on employers.
  • The Indiana Economic Development Corporation will postpone the inaugural Indiana Global Economic Summit, scheduled for April 26-28
  • Communities are encouraged to work together to provide child care options for all who need assistance and delivery services of meals and other necessities for senior citizens
  • Hoosiers who can donate blood are encouraged to visit local blood centers. Blood supplies are low. Please follow the guidance at

More information may be found at the ISDH website at and the CDC website at

Schneck Medical Center suspends elective surgeries

Following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Surgeon General, and American College of Surgeons, effective Wednesday, March 18, Schneck Medical Center will postpone elective, non-urgent surgeries.

The step has been taken to reduce the use of vital resources, including blood products, critical equipment and staff, as well as limit the spread of the virus.

>“This temporary measure will allow our hospital to enact preparedness plans we have been developing for weeks to create capacity and continue to deliver high quality care,” said Dr. Eric Fish, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer. “This is a fluid situation, and we will make appropriate clinical decisions with our physicians and assess capacity and resources against the need of the communities we serve.”

Schneck institutes further hospital restrictions

Schneck Medical Center has implemented further restrictions due to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Effective Tuesday, March 17, the Main Entrance located at 411 West Tipton Street is only accessible between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Additionally, shuttle service will be discontinued until further notice. This measure has been taken due to social distancing guidelines set forth by the CDC.

The Schneck Professional Building entrance to the main hospital remains open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Friday, and the Emergency Department entrance remains open 24/7.

As a reminder, every visitor and patient will be screened before entering the main hospital building located at 411 West Tipton Street, Seymour, Indiana.  Please consider arriving early for any scheduled appointments to allow time for screening.

Visitors are limited to two per patient and must be 18 years old and older. Anyone with fever and/or chills, sore throat, muscle aches, runny or stuffy nose, cough, fatigue, headache, and vomiting and/or diarrhea is asked to refrain from visiting patients.