Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Porter County Health Board: Virus numbers rising; war weariness blamed

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By HEATHER AUGUSTYN

The county’s COVID-19 numbers are on the rise, reported Porter County Health Officer Dr. Maria Stamp during Tuesday night’s Porter County Health Board meeting. Stamp attributed the growth to exhaustion, even ennui, in taking proper precautions. “This past week we have had quite an increase in cases,” said Stamp. The number of new positive cases in Porter County over the past seven days, according to the Porter County Health Department COVID-19 Dashboard, is 171 from September 30 through October 6. “I think our numbers we’re seeing over the past week or two are attributed to COVID fatigue. People are getting tired of wearing masks and they are getting tired of staying home if they test positive. It’s not gone. We need to press on and be vigilant and continue to wear masks and practice social distancing and wash our hands,” Stamp told members.

Porter County Health Board Chairman Martin Moeller asked about the age range of cases in the county. Stamp responded that positive cases are not specific to any one demographic group but instead represent a cross section of the community. “It’s across the board,” said Stamp. “We have had times where there have been spikes in young people, spikes in elderly, but right now it is across the board and it is community spread.”

She said that there are some encouraging signs that the county is moving in the right direction in terms of serious cases and deaths and she attributed this move to scientific developments as more becomes known of the virus. Stamp stated, “Porter County has not had an increase yet in the number of hospitalizations. They have remained steady. We also don’t have any outbreaks right now in our nursing homes. They are actually doing really well with screening their employees every week. We will occasionally have one or two employees [test positive], but they catch those pretty quickly. We are also seeing that the ICUs have developed protocols to take care of these patients. They’ve determined the right time to put people on a ventilator, and they are using antivirals and steroids. We have proven studies now about what is good and we are seeing much better responses.”

Stamp also noted that schools have been successful in containing the spread of COVID, though some school-related activities cause spikes. “We’re not seeing real specific outbreaks in schools which is also a positive thing so the measures the schools have put into place to protect students and faculty have been effective. However, we are seeing teams and other extracurricular outbreaks,” she said, noting that school administrators across the county are responsible for their own policies regarding contact and tracing. “Every school district is making their own decisions and monitoring where they feel that they are safe to stay open and operate. It varies from school district to school district,” said Stamp of the positivity rate.

The direction of county health officials has changed since the beginning of the pandemic from acquisition of PPE; education about protective protocols; and identification and containment of positive cases to planning for dissemination of a COVID vaccine when one is discovered. “Messaging from the state’s health department has started to turn to COVID vaccine planning so they have started to ask us to get ready. The COVID vaccine will not come to us all at once. We will get a small number of doses and the hospitals will probably get it first. It will be a tiered program so those on the front lines and those most at risk will get it first. Those still at a higher risk will get it next, and probably in the fall of 2021 it will be available for the general public. So we won’t have pods set up and the entire county set up to drive through and get it all at once. It will be tiered,” reported Stamp. She did have one piece of parting advice for all county residents in regard to protection from illness prior to the availability of a COVID vaccine. “In the meantime, everyone get your flu shot. That helps to minimize concern of what we’re dealing with when someone does get sick.”

 

Posted 10/7/2020

 
 
 
 

 

 

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