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This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). CDC via AP, File

ANDERSON — Local health officials are recommending that staff members of long term care facilities be tested regularly for the coronavirus.

Dr. Stephen Wright, Madison County’s health officer, said during an interview Friday on WHBU that although the state recommends testing of all residents of long term care facilities, targeted testing would be more practical.

“We know where there are hot spots,” Wright said of long term care facilities and correctional facilities. “It’s common sense to test the staff on a regular basis. If the staff is healthy, the residents will be healthy.”

On Friday, the county health department reported no new deaths from the coronavirus, leaving the local total at 62. The department reported three new cases, raising the total to 576.

The Indiana State Department of Health shows 3,620 Madison County residents having been tested. This week, the county department started providing tests and has been testing about 60 people daily, all by appointment.

As the state is easing stay-at-home restrictions and letting more business open, health officials are “holding their breath,” Wright said.

Dr. Troy Abbott, president of the county board of health, emphasized the importance of continuing to follow public health directives.

“People should continue to wear masks and social distance,” he said. “We don’t want to go back to the quarantine. Wearing a mask in public is still a good thing. The more we do it and social distancing, the sooner we get out of this.”

Abbott said the focus of local health efforts remains on people over the age of 65 and those with underlying health conditions who are most susceptible to the virus.

Both hospitals in Anderson are reporting few active cases and are awaiting additional test results, according to Wright, who said no patients at Community Hospital Anderson were on ventilators Friday.

Abbott said the testing for the virus should continue in hot spots.

“Testing every single person is not warranted,” he explained. “People that have been exposed to the virus need to get tested.”

When asked about a potential spike in coronavirus cases in the fall, Wright said health officials will be vigilant and alert to any new cases.

State data shows that people over the age of 60 have accounted for 89.5% of COVID-19 deaths and 40% of positive cases in the county.

On Friday, ISDH reported 27 new deaths in Indiana, bringing the total from the coronavirus to 1,791.

The state reported 493 new cases. That raises the number of people who have tested positive to 30,409, with 3,625 positive cases among residents of long-term care facilities.

The number of beds in intensive care units across the state declined by 38 to 2,591 with 16.1% occupied by coronavirus patients.

The number of ventilators in use statewide decreased by 21 – to 3,079 – with 5.6% being used by COVID-19 patients.

Madison County continues to rank sixth in Indiana for the number of deaths from the novel coronavirus. Marion County has recorded 528 deaths, Lake County has had 166, Johnson County 102, Hamilton County 91 and Allen County 65.

The number of deaths reported in Johnson, Hamilton and Allen counties did not increase from Thursday to Friday, according to state data.

Follow Ken de la Bastide

on Twitter @KendelaBastide,

or call 765-640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.

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