While Kosciusko County was still at four confirmed cases of coronavirus as of Tuesday – including an employee of Kosciusko Community Hospital – neighboring Elkhart County reported its first death.

In an email from Kara Stevenson, marketing and community relations, Lutheran Health Network, she stated, “Our hospital is providing care for an employee who has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual is in the hospital receiving care. In consultation with local and state health officials, we are actively communicating with the affected employee and other employees or physicians who were in contact with the individual.

“As with all patients who have tested positive and who meet risk factors or have symptoms consistent with coronavirus, we are following infection control protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including the use of personal protective equipment, placement of the patient in an appropriate infection isolation room separated from the other patients and the use of a small care team.”

Stevenson said that due to the nature of this virus, it could be contracted anywhere. The Kosciusko County Health Department or the CDC are the best sources for information about the nature of the virus.

“We continue to take proactive steps to protect our patients, caregivers and the community, providing for the safety and privacy of all,” she said. “Due to federal privacy regulations, we are unable to share additional information.”

A news release from Elkhart County Department of Emergency Management stated, “We are saddened to report that Elkhart County has had its first COVID-19 death. The 80-year-old male had multiple co-morbidities (additional medical conditions) and passed at a hospital in Elkhart County. Our condolences go to the family. We are expecting more official notifications of deaths in the coming days. Again, people must stay at home! This is the best way to ensure that you or your loved ones do not become infected.”

A news release from the Kosciusko County Health Department Tuesday afternoon stated that, according to the most recent information it has received from local hospitals regarding COVID-19 testing in Kosciusko County as of Tuesday, the county is now up to 134 total tests performed. The county has 64 results received, with 60 of those negative and four positive tests.

The Indiana State Department of Health has confirmed that Indiana has sustained community transmission of the coronavirus.

“Please treat all contacts as if they are infected, even if they are asymptomatic, and each individual should follow mandates such as staying at home and only traveling for essential business,” the KCHD release states.

ISDH also announced Tuesday that 374 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories. That brings to 2,159 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total. Forty-nine Hoosiers have died.

To date, 13,373 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 11,658 on Monday.

COVID-19 is spread by person-to-person transmission through respiratory droplets, according to the release from Elkhart County. “You send respiratory droplets into the environment via saliva and mucus through your breathing, talking, singing, sneezing, coughing, etc. That is why physical distancing is so vital. We all must stay 6 feet away from others. This is also why we have so much emphasis on hygiene – washing hands, covering coughs, staying home when ill, etc. It's all to prevent the spread of the virus,” the release states.

The best way to protect yourself from any respiratory illness, including COVID-19, is to:

• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60% or higher alcohol.

• Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

• Practice social distancing of 6 feet or greater (no group functions such as book clubs, meetings, and or congregations of 10 or more)

• Stay home unless you need to go somewhere.

• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash and then wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.

• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.