NewsHealth / March 11, 2020

St. Joseph County Has Its First COVID-19 Case

St. Joseph County Has Its First COVID-19 CaseThe St. Joseph County Health Department confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the county Wednesday afternoon. Health officials say they are expecting more cases in the next few days.coronavirus, COVID-19, St. Joseph County2020-03-11T00:00:00-04:00
Article origination WVPE-FM
St. Joseph County Has Its First COVID-19 Case

St. Joseph Co. Health officials in Indiana announce the first COVID-19 case in the county at a news conference on March 11, 2020, in South Bend.

Annacaroline Caruso/WVPE
ANNACAROLINE CARUSO & DIANE DANIELS

The St. Joseph County Health Department confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in the county Wednesday afternoon. Health officials say they are expecting more cases in the next few days.

The confirmed case is a man in his 50s, and local health officials say he’s in self-quarantine at home. They believe he contracted COVID-19 from someone else in Indiana who was confirmed earlier this week to have the virus.

Health officials will not say if the individual who tested positive is connected to Stanley Clark School in South Bend where class has been cancelled as school officials await the results of a test on a teacher who was concerned about exposure to the coronavirus. 

Officials estimate they’ve tested between 50 and 60 people in the county for COVID-19 so far. They expect more positive cases in the coming days.

Dr. Robert Einterz is the county health officer. He said it’s not a surprise the virus has spread to this area.

“We have been expecting this to occur for the last several weeks. It’s been an expectation for some time," Einterz said. "We likely will not be able to contain this virus across the United States. What all of us would like to see is no COVID-19 in any community. That’s not rational.”

Einterz said the focus is now on containing the virus as much as possible in order to slow the spread. He said this will make it easier for medical professionals to prepare. A large outbreak could strain the healthcare system. 

 This is the 11th case of COVID-19 in Indiana to date.

Local health officials recommend keeping a social distance of 6 feet, washing hands, and limiting mass gatherings.

They are not recommending school closures yet.

Einterz said closing schools might do more harm than good.

“Any sort of closing is a double edged sword. On one hand it may prevent transmission of COVID-19 but the economic and social consequences of people being out of a job for two weeks, four weeks, six weeks can have significant adverse health consequences,” he said.

Einterz said students are likely to get together whether schools are open or not.

He said the case is different for colleges and universities where students live on campus.

Several universities across the state have announced transitions to online classes.

Contact Annacaroline at acaruso@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @AnnacarolineC16

If you appreciate this kind of journalism on your local NPR station, please support it by donating at:  https://wvpe.thankyou4caring.org/ 

At WFYI, our goal is to cover stories that matter to you. Our reporting is rooted in facts. It considers all perspectives and is available to everyone. We don't have paywalls, but we do need support. So if unbiased, trusted journalism is important to you, please join us. Donate now.

 

 

Related News

Healthcare Workers Feeling Stress Of Coronavirus Threat
St. Joseph County, Indiana Repurposing Hotels, Former Hospitals To Prepare For Surge In COVID-19
How Hospitals Are Scrambling For Equipment As COVID-19 Cases Rise