Indiana Governor Mike Pence said on Wednesday he will declare a public health disaster in a small southern Indiana county that has seen a drastic increase in HIV cases tied to intravenous prescription drug abuse since December.
“This is a public health emergency,” Pence said of the declaration for rural Scott County, located about 35 miles north of Louisville, Kentucky. “Now I’m evaluating all of the issues and all of the tools that may be available to local health officials in light of a public health emergency.”
Pence spoke to reporters after meeting with county officials and representatives from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Since December, Scott County has had 72 confirmed HIV cases and seven preliminary ones. Officials fear potentially up to 100 cases could be identified.
In past years, Scott County reported less than five new HIV cases each year and had just 21 residents with HIV in 2014, according to state statistics. (Read more from “Indiana Governor to Declare Disaster for County Hit by HIV Outbreak [+video]” HERE)