IN Focus: Hoosiers on front lines of coronavirus fight as state announces first case

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Governor Eric Holcomb announced the first presumptive case of the coronavirus in Indiana during a briefing Friday morning. State and local health officials explained the patient is an adult male who lives in Marion County. 

Gov. Holcomb has now declared a public health emergency to ensure the state is in the best position to get federal funding to respond. 

Indiana State Health Commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, said the patient traveled to Boston and had contact with people at an event where positive coronavirus cases had been identified. He arrived back in Indiana on Wednesday. 

Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) issued a statement Friday in support of the state's response.

"Under the leadership of Governor Holcomb, the state, in coordination with our medical community, was prepared and ready to respond," said Young.

“This virus presents a profound challenge to our nation and our public health infrastructure. However, Hoosiers and Americans are a resilient and compassionate people," said Rep. Andre Carson (D-IN). "By taking important preventive measures, protecting the most vulnerable, and supporting our local public health agencies, we will overcome this outbreak.”

Several key Hoosiers find themselves on the front lines of the national effort to fight the virus.

Vice President Mike Pence is leading the task force, but other Indiana natives are also in key positions, including Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, HHS secretary Alex Azar and CMS administrator Seema Verma.

Friday's announcement of Indiana's first coronavirus case came the same day that multiple White House officials described the virus as "contained" even though the number of cases continued to rise throughout the week.

"This has been contained because the president took action," said presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway. "And a lot of you criticize him for doing that."

"We made a good move," said President Trump of the decision to limit travel from affected countries. "We closed it down, we stopped it. Otherwise, the head of CDC said that you would have had thousands of more problems."

"While this first case (in Indiana) is believed to be isolated, we must remain vigilant to the likelihood of community spread," said Carson. "We must also continue working closely with state and local officials to ensure we have the resources that are needed to mitigate the spread."

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