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WATERLOO — A DeKalb High School staff member has tested positive for COVID-19, commonly known as coronavirus, DeKalb Central Schools Superintendent Steve Teders reported Tuesday.

DeKalb County Health Officer Dr. Mark Souder confirmed it is the first verified case of the virus-related illness in DeKalb County.

In a message sent to DeKalb Central School families and staff, Teders said the individual has been self-quarantined since Tuesday, March 17. The patient’s identity is being kept confidential.

The staff member’s last day in the high school was Monday, March 16.

“As a reminder, students were last in session at DeKalb Central Schools on Friday, March 13. After consulting the DeKalb County Health Department, it is advisable for individuals, including a limited number of students picking up school supplies, who were present in the high school on Monday, March 16, to continue to self-monitor, stay home and contact your health care provider should you become ill or show symptoms of COVID-19,” Teders said.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has now landed in DeKalb County with what I believe to be the first verified case, and it is more important than ever to comply with local, state and federal guidelines for slowing the spread of coronavirus. DeKalb Central Schools is committed to the safety and well-being of students and staff and will continue to be in direct consultation with local health officials, so please stay tuned for future announcements.”

Souder said how the DeKalb County patient came into contact with the virus remains under investigation, and it includes the possibility of indirect contact with the first patient in Noble County, whose case was confirmed March 9 as one of the first in Indiana.

“The test results came available today,” Souder said Tuesday of the DeKalb County case. “The patient put himself into isolation and self-quarantine early on. The problem that’s going to be created is he was in the school building that Monday.”

Souder said he was told the individual was around the school office area, more than elsewhere in the school building, where fewer students would have been coming and going.

“The county is working closely with the state health department to identify any close contacts of the patient who might have been exposed to ensure that appropriate precautions are taken in accordance with the latest CDC guidelines. At this time, the risk to the public is believed to be low,” said a news release from the DeKalb County Health Department and DeKalb County Homeland Security.

Souder emphasized the importance of monitoring for coronavirus symptoms, such as fever, cough and difficulty breathing.

People displaying the symptoms should contact their primary care physician first. Those who are ill also should think about contacting the acute respiratory clinic that Parkview DeKalb Hospital has set up in Auburn, Souder added.

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