Coronavirus continues to dominate the news, as the number of confirmed cases in Indiana jumped 30% from 19 to 25 in a 24-hour period ended Monday morning.

Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday announced the state’s first death due to the virus. The only information about the patient was he was over 60 with an underlying health problem. However, he would not have died without contracting COVID-19, officials said.

The governor also ordered restaurants and bars to close dining rooms and only offer delivery or carryout. He ordered surgical centers to cancel or postpone non-emergency surgeries, the state to suspend unemployment requirements to show up in person for re-employment services, and Hoosiers are encouraged to donate blood.

Boone County Clerk Jessica Fouts has been quarantined after a trip out of the country. She will be out of the office until March 30.

Boone County Health Officer Dr. Herschell Servies told the Boone County Commissioners Monday that testing will ramp up this week. LabCorp, a commercial laboratory Witham works with, will begin testing this week. Servies said Witham Hospital is able to begin testing.

“The question again is who is going to be tested?” Servies said. “According to LabCorp, they still want to go by the CDC guidelines. I think that’s going to last about five minutes. I think you’re going to see folks get tested and, in my opinion, they should get tested.

“What’s going to happen, though, is the number of positives (confirmed cases) is going to go through the roof,” he added.

Servies said tests would only be performed under doctor’s orders and it would take five days to receive results. The understanding would be that the patient would self-quarantine during that waiting period and afterwards if the test is positive.

Witham has set up a 24-hour hotline to answer questions at 765-485-8777. There is also a drive-through screening from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in Lebanon and 2 to 4 p.m. at Anson. Both screening locations are in an ambulance bay near the emergency entrance. Those going to be screened are advised to follow the signs.

In the drive-through screening, medical personnel will ask standard questions about contact with a known case of coronavirus and travel. They will also take a temperature and check blood oxygen levels.

“If the questions aren’t going like the nurse thought, then they can go directly to the (emergency room),” Servies told the commissioners.

One of the options considered by the county health department is activating the Medical Reserve Corps. This is a group of volunteers with and without medical training recruited nationally after Sept. 11, 2001.

The corps has trained for vaccination clinics but has never been used in a health emergency. There are 35 members, and the department is accepting applications.

“Definitely, we want all those medical people, but we also accept people volunteering that don’t necessarily have a medical background,” Boone County Health Department Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Tom Ryan said. “They can do traffic control, functional needs, especially bi-lingual people or people that have American Sign Language skills.”

Interested volunteers may sign up online at boonemrc.com.

Gus Pearcy writes for The Lebanon Reporter. Email him at gus.pearcy@reporter.net.

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