Health officials want to remind the community COVID-19 is still here, local hospitals are still seeing a steady increase in hospitalizations and recommended precautions to slow the spread should still be followed by everyone.
The Allen County Department of Health has continued to report increases in positive cases of COVID-19 in the community since March. And a steady uptick in weekly case averages has occurred since Governor Eric Holcomb began announcing the reopening of Indiana in early May.
“This virus is still present in the community and affecting many vulnerable populations,” said Dr. Deborah McMahan, Allen County health commissioner. “Please continue to use recommended precautions. Because many people can carry the virus without having any symptoms, these efforts are not just to protect yourself but everyone you come in contact with.”
A comparison of two different two-week time periods – one toward the end of the strictest stay-at-home order guidelines (April 19 to May 2) and the other when Indiana started relaxing the order (May 18 to May 31) – found a nearly 54 percent increase in the average seven-day running total of cases, from 157 cases-per-period up to 241 cases-per-period.
Both local hospital systems have also seen an increase in hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients since mid-May. And leaders from both echoed the important role the public plays in ensuring their facilities are able to serve the community with the highest level of care through the pandemic.
“In order to slow the spread of COVID-19, everyone must heed the practices we know help to keep everyone safe: social distancing of at least six feet, wearing a mask that covers both the mouth and nose while in public and thorough and frequent hand washing,” said Vishal Bhatia, M.D., regional chief medical officer for Lutheran Health Network. “We know doing these things increases safety for all and makes a significant impact. At Lutheran Health Network, we continue to abide by all local, state, federal and CDC guidelines as safety is our top priority.”
“As our region reopens, precautions such as social distancing, handwashing and mask-wearing are vital to help slow the spread of disease,” said Jeffrey Boord, MD, MPH, chief quality and safety officer for Parkview Health. “Our clinics and physician offices remain open, and our emergency departments and hospitals are ready to care for patients with COVID-19 and other concerns. All Parkview facilities have numerous safety measures in place. But healthcare providers can’t fight the virus alone. We encourage everyone to remain vigilant in following the recommended precautions for both their personal health and the health of our community.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone do the following to protect themselves and others from COVID-19:
1) Wash your hands often
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60 percent alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
2) Avoid close contact
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick, even inside your home. If possible, maintain six feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
• Put distance between yourself and other people outside of your home.
• Remember some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
• Stay at least six feet (about two arms’ length) from other people.
• Do not gather in groups.
• Stay out of crowded places and avoid mass gatherings.
• Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick (get more details here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-at-higher-risk.html).
3) Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others
• Since people can spread COVID-19 to others even if they do not feel sick, everyone should wear a cloth face cover in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities. The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people.
• Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
• Continue to keep about six feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
More information on COVID-19 and local case statistics can be found at www.allencountyhealth.com/covid-19.