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First Hoosier dies of coronavirus; state officials urge Hoosiers to stay home
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First Hoosier dies of coronavirus; state officials urge Hoosiers to stay home

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Virus Outbreak Indiana

Health care workers test patients for the coronavirus in a drive-thru site outside the South Bend Clinic Day Road Immediate Care Center on Wednesday in Mishawaka. 

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has seen its first death as a result of the novel coronavirus.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the news in a Monday press conference, sharing that the individual had been under care in central Indiana's Community Health Network.

Ram Yeleti, executive vice president and chief physician executive for the Community Health Network, said the person was over 60 years old and did have a preexisting health issue before testing positive for COVID-19.

Yeleti said a nurse stayed with the infected Hoosier at the time death.  The individual's significant other, also exposed to the virus, was allowed to communicate via an iPad.

"This is not the first patient and this will not be the last," Yeleti said, urging Hoosiers to stay home and take social distancing directives seriously.

The Indiana State Department of Health reported five new positive cases of the virus on Monday, bringing the state's total to 24.

Only one case has been confirmed in Northwest Indiana as of Monday afternoon — a 55-year-old LaPorte County man who is seeking care at Porter Regional Hospital. The ISDH is reporting 139 tests of Hoosiers have been performed by the state health department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Thirteen counties are reporting positive COVID-19 cases: Adams, Bartholomew, Boone, Floyd, Hamilton, Hendricks, Howard, Johnson, LaPorte, Marion, Noble, St. Joseph and Wells counties. Marion County has reported the highest number of cases with seven.

Holcomb also issued new directives Monday morning to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The state raised its Emergency Operations Center to its highest level and is calling for all businesses and restaurants to limit service to only take-out and deliveries, something state officials say they expect to wind down today and take full effect Wednesday.

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Hospitals have also been directed to cease all non-urgent surgeries to free up capacity for those believed to be seeking care for symptoms aligning with those of COVID-19.

“While we had hoped, prayed, and worked hard so this painful day would never occur, sadly we knew it would, and still sadly we anticipate it will again," Holcomb said Monday. "It just underscores how incredibly important it is and timely it is that social distancing is the best way at this moment to slow the spread of COVID-19."

Yeleti said the Community Health Network does not have enough bed space for those expected to be admitted showing signs of the virus.

He asked that people self-isolate not only to protect at-risk, aging populations, but to also ensure health care workers can continue work with lower risk of infection.

"We're doing everything we can," Yeleti said. "I'm still concerned all the hospitals in the state won't have enough beds."

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