GOSHEN — As novel coronavirus numbers continue to increase in Elkhart County, Elkhart County Health Department officials have noted an increase in cases in the Amish and Latino populations.
Melanie Sizemore, a spokesperson for the Elkhart County Health Department, said, “Most of the positives can be traced back to close living quarters, large social gatherings and people not wearing masks and not social distancing. The Health Department staff is concerned and implore the Amish to get tested, especially when they feel ill.” She asks the same of those in the Latino community.
Because these two cultural groups have a tendency to have a number of people living in one communal setting, “that is a glaring problem. When one tests positive, they all test positive. Then they go to church and go to work.” It causes spread. And naturally, as people go to work, it will affect the number of cases there as well.
“We are not seeing any one specific business that is more predominantly affected than the other,” Sizemore said.
To help combat this type of spread, the health department has joined with local Latino leaders to form a task force of about 20 to 25 people. Their first steering meeting will be Monday. “The goal of the group is to address community issues” concerning coronavirus spread, she said.
The Health Department also released information on its Facebook page about “Households living in close quarters.” The release is in English and Spanish and is provided by the Centers for Disease Control. Those have been attached to the online version of this article.
Here are the highlights of that release.
“Everyone should limit risks. If your household includes one or more vulnerable individuals then all family members should act as if they, themselves, are at higher risk,” the release reads.
People should limit errands and leave their homes only when absolutely necessary. If a person must leave the house, they should:
• Choose a person who is not at a higher risk to run essential errands
• Wear a cloth face covering, avoid crowds and practice social distancing.
• Use transportation that minimizes close contact with others. If public transportation is necessary, maintain a 6-foot distance from other passengers, avoid handrails and other high-touch surfaces and wash your hands.
• Wash your hands immediately after returning home.
• Those who are at higher risk in the home should keep as much physical distance from others in the home as much as possible. Don’t hug, kiss or share food or drinks.
• Vulnerable family members should avoid caring for children and those who are sick.
• Separate a household member who is sick. Designate one caregiver for that person if possible. That person should not be in the high-risk category. A different person should clean, bathe or do other daily tasks for another person in the household who would need help.
• Maintain 6-feet of distance between the person who is sick and other family members, sleep head to toe and put a curtain or other physical divider to separate the ill person’s bed.
• For those who need to share a bathroom with a person who is sick, the person who is sick should clean and disinfect the surfaces of the bathroom after each use. If that is not possible, the person who does the cleaning should ventilate the bathroom by opening windows or outside doors or use a fan and wait as long as possible before entering the room to clean and disinfect or to use it.
• Those who are sick should not help prepare food. They should also eat separately from the family.
Sizemore said it is important for people to minimize the spread using these guidelines. “It’s just not going away any time soon,” she said.
For those who are ill, they should first call their doctor and, if needed, be referred to one of the clinics in the county.
Testing sites include:
• Beacon, 206 W. Warren St., Middlebury. Open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Beacon, 500 Carriage Lane, Millersburg — two Forest River-donated RVs parked at the Clinton Township Fire Department. Open Thursdays from 8:30 to 11 a.m.
• Beacon, 451 N. Main St., Nappanee. Open on Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
• Beacon, 207 N. Elkhart St., Wakarusa. The clinic is open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments and referrals are required.
• Goshen Hospital and Goshen Urgent Care Center drive-throughs: Appointment not required and neither is a referral.
• Concord Family Medicine, 25651 C.R. 20. Hours are: Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. An appointment is required, but not a referral. Drive-through testing. Call 574-296-3420.
• South Bend Clinic, 300 E. Jackson St. Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. An appointment is required, but referrals are not needed. All patients will be tested and there is a drive through.
• Heart City Health — only testing for COVID-19 at 236 Simpson Ave., Elkhart. You do not have to be an existing patient to be tested. To streamline the process, they are asking patients to call ahead at 574-293-0052 to be pre-screened and schedule a time to be tested. Heart City Health will only administer a COVID-19 test if the patient meets the screening criteria. Office hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Elkhart General Hospital — An appointment is not required, but a referral is necessary. There is a drive through. A primary care doctor must be called first.
• Beacon MedPoint Urgent Care, 3301 C.R. 6 East, Elkhart. Referrals are required and no appointment is necessary.
• Center for Healing & Hope in Goshen for a limited patient group
• Saint Joseph Physician Network People’s Clinic, 5218 Beck Drive, Suite 12, Elkhart. Call 574-335-8560 to be screened.
• Indiana State Department of Health/Optum Test Site, 2313 S. Oakland Ave., Elkhart. An appointment is required, but no referral needed. They are testing all patients and have a drive through. Registration for testing must be completed at https://lhi.care/covidtesting or by phone at 888-634-1123.
• MedStat Nappanee, 1001 N. Main St., Suite 1, Nappanee. Appointment and referrals from a doctor are required. There is a drive through.