The following COVID-19 update is brought to you through a collaboration of healthcare partners including Delaware County Health Department, Delaware County Emergency Management Agency, Delaware County Office of Information, and other major healthcare providers.Delaware County weekly COVID-19 updates are released every Thursday and include information from the Indiana State Department of Health county metrics dashboard, which is updated every Wednesday afternoon.One week after Thanksgiving, Delaware County remains orange on the Indiana State Department of Health’s county metrics map. Orange is the second-to-worst score a county can receive, indicating moderate to high level of community spread of COVID-19. Jammie Bane, administrator of Delaware County Health Department, said those who traveled or were with individuals outside of their household during Thanksgiving should take extra care to monitor themselves for symptoms and be cautious of exposing others, in case they are infected.Despite maintaining an orange ranking, hospitalizations in the county have continued to rise. As of Dec. 3, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital is treating 78confirmed cases of COVID-19, 45of which are Delaware County residents. “As we continue to manage this increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, our team members remain ready to care for those who need it,” said Dr. Jeff Bird, president of IU Health East Central Region. “We need our communities to do their part in protecting themselves and others from COVID-19: wear a mask when going out in public, avoid being in groups and crowds, wash your hands regularly and stay home and isolated when you are sick.”Since the last update on Nov. 24, Delaware County has reported 715new cases and 5new deaths as of Dec. 3. The county’s 7-day positivity rate is at 8.7%; the CDC suggests this number should be well under 5%.Earlier this week, the CDC announced shortened quarantine options for those considered a close contact to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, if certain criteria are met. The Delaware County Health Department suggests these options only be considered for individuals who fall under the CDC guidelines for “Critical Infrastructure.”Therefore, the official recommendation for quarantine of someone identified as a close contact remains at 14 days.One silver lining for the pandemic has been talks of several promising vaccines. Some people have expressed concern over “fast-tracked” vaccines, but Dr. Max Rudicel, chief medical officer of Open Door Health Services, explained that fast-tracking a vaccine does not mean shortcuts in safety.“The risk of ‘fast-tracking’ is purely financial; it refers largely to financial investments being made by the government,” Rudicel said. “For example, by fast-tracking the investment, money is available to begin producing doses of a vaccine before it’s known whether that particular vaccine will actually make it out of testing, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, [director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious
Diseases]. If it does receive approval after testing is complete, then doses are available for distribution more quickly.”The CDC has recommended that healthcare personnel, workers in essential and critical industries, people at high risk for severe COVID-19 illness due to underlying medical conditions, and people 65 years and older should be the first groups of people to receive a vaccine once released.Because the vaccine supply will arrive in phases, Bane said we should not expect a significant impact from the vaccines anytime soon.Additional updates on vaccine information and planning can be found on the state’s website.For more information on Delaware County’s COVID-19 total cases and deaths, as well as testing location information, visit dcema.com. ###Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat if I traveled over Thanksgiving or gathered with people beyond my immediate household? Those who traveled or risked exposure to individuals outside of their household should take extra care to monitor themselves for symptoms and be cautious of exposing others, in case they are infected. Examples of this would be limiting unnecessary time spent in public and ensuring proper mask use at all times. Should any symptoms arise, they should notify their employer, isolate at home and seek testing and/or the direction of their doctor. Will vaccines allow an immediate return to normal? What should people expect over the next few months?We should not expect a significant impact from the vaccines anytime soon. The vaccine supply will arrive in phases and is expected to be very limited in quantity initially. I got tested for COVID-19. Now what?Individuals who get tested because they have symptoms should quarantine after their test until they receive their results. If the test is positive, they must continue to isolate. Isolation can end after ALL of the following have occurred: •10 days have passed since onset of symptoms•If fever was a symptom, 24 hours have passed with no fever, without use of fever-reducing drugs•Other symptoms are improving (however, loss of taste/smell may persist and does not to be factored into this requirement) However, a person who has tested positive should follow their healthcare provider’s advice on when to end isolation. The official recommendation for quarantine of someone identified as a close contact remains at 14 days.The CDC has recently announced options for shortening this timeframe to 10 or even possibly 7 days, if certain criteria are met.We suggest these options only be considered for use by individuals who would fall under the CDC guidelines for “Critical Infrastructure.”Employers retain the ability to, and are recommended to, require 14-day quarantine of any potentially exposed staff members.The 7-and 10-day options, in summary:•Quarantine can end after day 10 without testing and if NO symptoms have been reported during daily monitoring.
•When testing is readily available ,quarantine can end as early as day 7 with a negative test result; HOWEVER, the test can be conducted no earlier than day 5 of the quarantine period.In either situation, after stopping quarantine, people should•Watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure.•If they have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health authority or healthcare provider, as well as their employer if necessary.•Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others, wash their hands, and avoid crowds.Again, the standing recommendation for quarantine of close contacts remains at 14 days. For more information, please visitcdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantineor cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-options-to-reduce-quarantine.What is a “close contact”?The CDC definition of “close contact” includes the following:•You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more, with or without masks. (This is 15 total minutes over the course of 24 hours. E.g., three five-minute periods of time throughout one day would count as close contact.) •You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19.•You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them).•You shared eating or drinking utensils.•They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.Should I/my child get tested for COVID-19 even if only mild cold-like symptoms, like a runny nose, are present?Anyone experiencing symptoms of illness should isolate at home to avoid the risk of spreading illness to others. With the improved availability of testing, DCHD would further recommend testing to any such individual. Additional information concerning when you can return to work and what to do if your test is positive is available for review at cdc.gov.If I test positive for COVID-19, how should close contacts be informed?Anyone who tests positive should proactively seek to notify anyone they have had close contact with, as far back as 48 hours before their symptom onset. Positive individuals should also cooperate with any contact tracing calls they receive from the State, so that state contact tracers can also document and notify close contacts of their need to quarantine.What should I do if I witness a business and/or citizen failing to comply with guidelines from the state or county?Complaints can be lodged through the Delaware County Health Department Citizen Complaint Form, most easily available through the Delaware County Coronavirus Hub at dcema.com. Will getting a flu shot protect me from COVID-19?While some evidence exists that the flu vaccine may help with protection against COVID-19, this vaccine should not be considered a protection against COVID-19. Instead, protection against influenza infection may prove beneficial to the population by lowering the number of flu illnesses overall and freeing up space in the healthcare system for those infected with COVID-19 or needing other healthcare.What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
People who have COVID-19 may exhibit any range of these symptoms, and some may even show no symptoms at all. Symptoms may appear 2–14 days after being exposed to the virus. Some symptoms of COVID-19 include:•Fever or chills•Cough•Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing•Fatigue•Muscle or body aches•Headache•New loss of taste or smell•Sore throat•Congestion or runny nose•Nausea or vomiting•DiarrheaAnyone with these symptoms should stay home as much as possible and limit their exposure to others. Children who have any of the above symptoms should be kept home from school. For more information, read the Indiana State Department of Health’s guidelines for returning to school here. What should I do if I think I might have COVID-19?If you have any of the above symptoms or have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you should immediately begin to self-quarantine to prevent spreading the disease to others. You should also call a local health clinic to arrange to be tested. Follow your doctor’s orders and continue to self-quarantine until you receive negative test results.Children who exhibit any of the above symptoms should NOT be sent to school. If your child shows any of the listed symptoms, keep the child home in quarantine and contact your healthcare provider for further guidance. Where can I get tested?Several local health clinics offer COVID-19 tests, including Meridian Health Services, Open Door Health Services, and more. Open Door offers free community tests for individuals with or without symptoms, made available through a partnership with the Delaware County Health Department. Those who wish to get tested are encouraged to register online in advance at opendoorhs.org/testingfor a quicker testing visit.For anyone unable to pre-register, on-site registration is available.For a complete list of testing locations in Delaware County, visit the Delaware County Indiana Coronavirus Hub. Be advised that some locations may test only those who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. Staying Safe from COVID-19To keep yourself safe from COVID-19 and to reduce the spread of the disease, wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds, wear a mask when inside public spaces and when in crowded areas, and practice social distancing.If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who tested positive, schedule an appointment to get tested as soon as possible. Self-quarantine until you have received negative test results. A list of testing locations can be found on the Delaware County Indiana Coronavirus hub.