Covid photo

MICHIGAN CITY — Nine new positive cases of COVID-19 were reported in Indiana on Wednesday, bringing to 39 the number of Hoosiers diagnosed.

The Indiana State Department of Health said the new cases, diagnosed through ISDH, included one case in Northwest Indiana – the third case in Lake County – and cases in Clark, Fayette, Hamilton, Hendricks, Jennings, Madison counties, and two in Marion County. Two Hoosiers have died.

In response to the outbreak, Franciscan Health Michigan City has started drive-through testing for the virus in the main parking lot of the hospital at I-94 and U.S. 421.

“The COVID-19 testing facility is now up and running at our Franciscan Health Michigan City hospital and already tested its first patient this morning,” Franciscan spokesman Robert Blaszkiewicz said.

“The testing station is located at a trailer on the far east side of the hospital’s main parking lot and is identified with signage.”

He stressed that in order to obtain a test, patients must have a doctor’s order and must pre-register by calling 219-877-1474 prior to arrival.

La Porte Hospital on Wednesday announced a free phone screening line for individuals who have one or more symptoms of COVID-19 and are concerned they may need testing, according to hospital spokeswoman Kelly Credit.

Anyone suffering symptoms, including fever, cough and difficulty breathing, can call the free screening line at 833-576-3627. It is available Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-8 p.m. and on weekends from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

Callers can speak with a healthcare professional and get questions answered, she said. Based on the answers provided, callers are referred to the appropriate level of care for further evaluation, if needed.

Callers do not need to be La Porte Hospital or La Porte Physician Network patients, but Credit stressed that anyone experiencing life-threatening symptoms should call 911.

“Our hospital is prepared and we are protecting our patients, our caregivers and the community,” Credit said. “We are monitoring ongoing COVID-19 updates from the CDC, and using the CDC screening guidelines for symptoms and risk factors and have implemented a response plan to protect patients and our staff.

“As this situation evolves, the CDC is updating their guidance and we update our processes with these guidelines.”

If a physician determines a patient meets the risk criteria, they coordinate testing and the patient’s ultimate disposition, in consultation with the Indiana Department of Health as necessary, Credit said.

“Our staff can obtain the appropriate specimens which are sent to the appropriate state or commercial lab for testing. We understand the sensitivity at this time and want to reassure the community that we are well prepared and are providing such care when necessary.”

Resources for those concerned or seeking information about the virus are also available, according to state Rep. Pat Boy, D-Michigan City.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread in Indiana, I’ve put together some resources for you to reference as you and your family navigate this uncertain and difficult time,” she said.

She urges everyone to follow the CDC recommendations:

Try to leave your home as seldom as possible. “We are being told not to go to the hospital the moment we feel sick but rather when it seems necessary. Speak to your doctor before leaving,” Boy said.

The virus is mainly transmitted by direct contact, by touching fabrics or materials on which the virus is present: it is essential to wash hands frequently.

Disinfect computer keyboards and mobile phone screens and anything else that you touch regularly.

For the updates on what to do if you have symptoms or have been exposed; health care recommendations and best practices; and COVID-19 statistics in Indiana, visit in.gov/corona virus/.

For workers to see who currently qualifies for specific unemployment benefits, visit in.gov/wcb/.

“Keep in mind that the Department of Workforce Development is working with its federal partners to broaden the eligibility requirements due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Boy said.

“Please make sure that you apply for benefits now even if you are not sure whether you will be eligible. You need to be in the system in case eligibility changes.”

For additional information on benefits for employees directed to isolate or quarantine; temporary layoffs related to COVID-19; and job loss related to COVID-19, visit in.gov/dwd/19.htm

For businesses, the state is working to compile a larger list of local bankers, financial associations, telecoms, utilities and major employers that may be able to provide relief, Boy said.

This could include:

Deferred bills, waived fees, discounts, no-interest loans and other support

Debt and late-penalty forgiveness for companies and workers in order to help keep people employed

Favorable credit terms for firms that encounter cash flow problems

For updates on school closures; and information and guidance for parents, visit doe.in.gov/safety/health/covid-19-resources-indiana -schools

For updates on parent education and referral support; and program services, visit in.gov/fssa/carefinder/5712.htm.

Boy also urges people to help others in need during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Some nonprofits and other agencies are asking for donations to continue helping some of our most vulnerable,” she said. “I’m calling on Hoosiers to help those agencies amid the outbreak.

“If you are in the financial position to do so, please continue to donate to your local shelters, soup kitchens and food pantries, as we know there are many families living paycheck to paycheck who can’t afford extra supplies.”

Boy also urges people to stay calm and informed.

“We are living in uncertain and difficult times, but we need to not allow what’s happening to consume us. Remain informed and keep calm, panicking doesn’t help anyone,” she said.

“We will get through this together.”

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