First Hoosier death from coronavirus underscores doctor’s plea for social distancing

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive with Community Health Network, urges people to practice social distancing in order to prevent more people dying.

Dr. Yeleti’s message comes hours after the first Hoosier died from COVID-19. The patient is from Marion County. Dr. Yeleti confirmed the person was over age 60 and had underlying medical conditions. Dr. Yeleti is the Chief Physician Executive with Community Health Network.

Since state health professionals are not naming the person, we are not either.

“Yep, it’s kind of a shock,” Deanna Watkins said of the person she asserts is the first person to die from the coronavirus in the state. “She was just such a vibrant person.”

Many social media messages we received indicated the patient was overwhelmingly kind and compassionate. Though we cannot name her, Dr. Yeleti detailed her final moments during this afternoon’s news conference.

“What makes this really hard, is that this individual’s significant other was also infected, so the two of them could not be together when this patient passed,” Dr. Yeleti said. “We had to do iPad conversing so the individuals could see each other. So that this individual did not die alone, one of our nurses stayed in the room with this person.”

Friends of the patients urge people to take this warning and practice social distancing. Doctors share in this plea, especially as it relates to younger adults.

“You want to be impactful you say, the way you can be impactful for society is by social distancing,” Dr. Yeleti explained. “If you do that, you will save so many people in the next few weeks.”

Physicians insist this is just the beginning of a long and painful journey.

“It’s very important to get out there, let people know that whatever action anybody takes is going to impact how many people die,” Dr. Yeleti urged.

If you are not taking social distancing seriously, let this news be enough to change that.

“People think, ‘Well it doesn’t matter to me,’ but it does,” Dr. Yeleti said. “Because every person that gets it, will infect several others without even knowing it.”

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