Chesterton Tribune



COVID surge pushes Porter County into the Red

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The Porter County Health Department (PCHD) is announcing that the unprecedented surge in COVID-19 cases has finally pushed the county into the Red designation.

A county’s COVID color status is determined by the average of two metrics: weekly cases per 100,000 residents; and seven-day all-tests positivity rate. A rate of 200 or more new weekly cases per-100,000 residents is scored Red (on Sunday, Porter County reported 861 new cases per 100,000). An all-tests positivity rate of 15 percent or higher is also scored Red (as of Nov. 7, the most recent date for which data are available, Porter County reported an all-tests positivity rate of 15.8 percent).

According to PCHD, in a statement released on Sunday, “The high positivity rates are over-taxing our hospitals. Quick and swift measures must be taken to slow the spread and lower our COVID-19 cases.”

PCHD’s announcement follows Gov. Eric Holcomb’s most recently issued executive order, which provides for the following in counties with a Red designation:

-- Social gatherings of any kind, indoor or outdoor, are limited to 25 people.

-- Organizers of a special seasonal or commercial event for which more than 25 people will be in attendance must submit a plan to the local health department at least seven days in advance and receive approval before proceeding. College and professional sports are included. This requirement takes effect Sunday, Nov. 22.

-- Face masks are required for all Hoosiers. Businesses of any type are required to place clearly visible signs at their public and employee entrances notifying all that face coverings are required.

-- All customers in restaurants and bars are required to be seated. Tables, counters, or other seating arrangements must be spaced six feet apart.

The governor’s executive order took effect on Sunday, Nov. 15 and remains in effect until at least Saturday, Dec. 12. “We must do all we can to protect our hospital capacity, so our healthcare professionals can protect and care for their patients,” Holcomb said. “Not only for those who have COVID, but for the cancer patient, the heart patient, and the other Hoosier patients who need care in our urban, rural, and suburban hospitals all across the State of Indiana.”

PCHD is urging residents to abide by the following measures:

“First and foremost, individuals exhibiting symptoms of the virus, testing positive for the virus, or exposed to a person with COVID-19 must stay home,” PCHD said. “It is necessary to ensure social distancing from those not living in your household, continue wearing face coverings, practice regular handwashing, and eliminate social gatherings. PCHD strongly discourages gatherings with anyone not in your household. This includes at bars and restaurants, before and after sporting events, before and after services of faith, and getting together with friends.”

"Understandably, this will be difficult,” PCHD said. “But family gatherings for birthdays, weddings, and even Thanksgiving are strongly discouraged. Because of this, PCHD is not permitting any gatherings over 25 people. Any events planned in Porter County must contact PCHD to discuss safety protocols.”

K-12 Sporting Events

“In addition to limiting gatherings of family and friends, it is necessary to limit the number of spectators at K-12 sporting events,” PCHD said. “At this time, PCHD is limiting spectators to parents/guardians/siblings only who are seated socially distanced from others. Concessions must be closed and water should be provided to participants only. Masks must be worn at all times by anyone not participating in strenuous activity. Staff or volunteer monitors should be assigned to ensure compliance.”

Mask Up at Businesses

“As set forth in the executive order, businesses are required to place clearly visible signage at their public and employee entrances notifying that face coverings are required for all individuals entering the business,” PCHD said. “Businesses shall require employees to wear face coverings, and should only admit those customers, clients, vendors, and other visitors who wear face coverings unless exempted.”

Restaurants and Bars

Per the executive order, all restaurants, bars, taverns, nightclubs, and other establishments providing in-person food and/or drink service must adhere to the following directives, PCHD said:

-- All patrons must remain seated while consuming food and/or drink or when otherwise remaining on the premises.

-- While capacity limits are no longer based on a percentage of overall occupancy, seating must be arranged and maintained so that individuals, households, or parties are spaced at least six feet apart from any other individual, household, or party.

-- Self-service beverage and food stations (buffets, salad bars, etc.) are permitted but not recommended unless a staff member serves patrons.

“PCHD will continue to evaluate the source of positive tests and conduct targeting testing where appropriate,” PCHD said. “Reducing the spread is a community-wide task. All Porter County citizens must commit over the next several months to take measures to reduce the community spread of COVID-19.”

“I am encouraged that the Porter County community understands the gravity of this disease and is working together for the common goal of saving lives and slowing spread of COVID-19,” said Health Officer Dr. Maria Stamp.


Posted 11/16/2020




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