GOSHEN — Elkhart County added 101 new coronavirus cases to its numbers Thursday, along with one death, in information provided by the Indiana State Department of Health.
St. Joseph and Kosciusko counties also saw bigger increases. The last time St. Joseph County saw an increase in the 30s was June 7.
Here are Thursday’s numbers:
Statewide — 43,655 positive cases, up 523; 2,394 deaths, up nine; 444,252 tested, up 12,395 with a positive rate of 9.9%.
Elkhart County — 2,805 positive cases, up 101; 41 deaths, up one; 19,894 tested with a positive rate of 14.10%.
LaGrange County — 420 positive cases, up eight; six deaths, zero new; 1,894 tested with a positive rate of 22.17%.
Noble County — 392 positive cases, up nine; 28 deaths, zero new; 2,590 tested with a positive rate of 10.92%.
Kosciusko County — 432 positive cases, up 26; two deaths, zero new; 4,551 tested with a positive rate of 9.49%.
St. Joseph County — 1,740 positive cases, up 35; 59 deaths, zero new; 23,553 tested with a positive rate of 7.39%.
Marshall County — 385 positive cases, up 11; three deaths, zero new; 2,777 tested with a positive rate of 10.19%.
From noon Sunday to noon Thursday, Elkhart County had 269 more people test positive for the novel coronavirus. The county has had a total of 2,805 positive cases since testing began in March. In that time, Goshen Health has completed 7,745 of those tests and had 1,054 positive test results (a positive rate of 14.3%). As of Wednesday, there were still 373 test results still outstanding, hospital officials said.
Goshen Hospital has admitted 133 COVID-19 patients since March and discharged 118. That leaves 15 still hospitalized. They also have confirmed 10 COVID-positive-related deaths, hospital officials said.
“Our Urgent Care and Emergency Department colleagues have faced several weeks of extremely high volumes,” Randy Christophel, president and CEO of Goshen Health, said. “Plus, last week our overall census was much higher. Colleagues are fatigued, but remain dedicated to serving our community.”
Dr. Dan Nafziger, Goshen Hospital’s chief medical officer, added, “We continue to ask our community to show support for our local healthcare providers, support staff and each other by taking every precaution possible, starting with wearing a mask in public. Physical distancing, handwashing, disinfecting and staying home if you’re not feeling well — all of these continue to be important for everyone’s protection. As we are getting back into more activities with people outside of our immediate households following these safety precautions has never been more important.”
Dr. Michelle Bache, vice president of Medical Affairs for Elkhart General Hospital, part of Beacon Health System, said in her weekly update, “The situation basically continues to get worse. We are having more positive cases.”
This past week, she said, Elkhart County has had its highest number of positive cases ever with more than 500 new cases of coronavirus reported.
The concern for Elkhart County, she said, is the trajectory of positive cases continuing to climb on an upward slope, while other counties are seeing a decline.
“We are seeing an increased need for hospitalizations,” she said. “We are seeing more demand for ventilators. So it is stretching our capacity somewhat. We are still in a good position in that we are able to continue to provide non-COVID care to the community and do surgeries and do all the important things that the community as a whole needs. But if the need for the ventilators and ICU beds continues to increase, it will be difficult for us.”
Bache said EGH has plenty of ventilators and equipment. “The problem is that we need nurses and we need doctors and we need the human resources to take care of these patients,” she said.
One intubated COVID-19 patient really needs a dedicated nurse, Bache explained. The patient needs ongoing adjustments to their ventilator and they need to be flipped to make sure they are ventilating as best as they can. They could also need to be on another support system as well, such as dialysis.
EGH is looking at increasing staff and using traveling nurses.
The hospital still has a COVID unit in addition to two ICUs, she said.
What the people of Elkhart County do in the next couple of weeks will determine what everyone’s summer and fall will look like, she cautioned. “Please, please wear masks,” she said. “It’s so important. Don’t wait until you have symptoms.”
She said 43% of the patients who tested positive did not have symptoms.
Bache also urges people to stay home if they are sick and that employers don’t make their employees come to work if they are sick.
Because of the increasing positive rate in Elkhart and LaGrange counties, Indiana’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver visited last week.
“I really appreciated the opportunity to visit,” she said. “Sometimes you really need the boots on the ground.”
She said local health officials are doing a lot of work and “I think they recognize they have two vulnerable populations that are being disproportionately affected.” Those communities are the Latino and Amish.
Elkhart County is working on educating and communicating with those populations. Weaver thinks continuing that push will make a difference.
There is also growing evidence that wearing masks out in the community does significantly reduce the spread of the virus, Weaver said.
She plans to continue conversations with local health officials and monitor the numbers.
Both Goshen and Elkhart hospitals “are doing a great job about taking care of their patients,” Weaver said.
Beacon has done a lot of testing and outreach testing, she said, noting that “People really do change their behavior when they know someone who has a positive test.”
Stage 5, which begins July 4, is part of the conversation, Weaver said. “We want to make the most accurate decision,” she said, so information is looked at down to the last hour about when to go to the next stage.
Regardless, even in Stage 5, social distancing is always a must.
As for Elkhart and LaGrange counties, she said they are on the right track. She would like to see them establish locations to isolate people who test positive and need a place to go.
CHAMBER TO HOST COVID WEBINAR
The Chambers of Commerce in Elkhart County, the City of Goshen and the Center for Business Excellence are hosting a special COVID-19 webinar from 8 to 9:15 a.m. Tuesday to help local businesses keep their employees and customers safe as they regain their momentum.
The panel of professionals representing health care, manufacturing, retail and restaurants will share what they’ve learned over the last six weeks, what’s working well for each along with some potential pitfalls to avoid.
The panel will include:
• Health Care: Randy Christophel, president and CEO, Goshen Health; Carl Risk, president, Elkhart General Hospital; and Dr. Michelle Bache, Elkhart General Hospital
• Manufacturing: Jacqueline Barton, president, Specialized Staffing Solutions
• Restaurants: Cam Snyder, owner Chubby Trout, Flippin’ Cow Restaurants
• Retail: Kate Leaman, owner, Shirley’s Gourmet Popcorn
There is no fee for the webinar.
For more information, go online to www.elkhart.org.
LaGrange County Public Library resuming curb-side service
Although the buildings are closed to the public, the LaGrange County Public Library and its branches will be resuming curb-side service beginning Monday.
Patrons may access the digital catalog online at www.lagrange.lib.in.us to reserve titles or call the numbers below to request titles for check-out. Patrons must have a valid library card to use this service.
• Call 260-463-2841 for curbside pickup of materials in LaGrange from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• Call 260-768-7444 for curbside pickup of materials in Shipshewana from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
• Call 260-593-3030 for curbside pickup of materials in Topeka from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Patrons will be notified when their order is ready for pick-up. Call ahead when picking up orders. Also note that regular due dates on materials and fines for overdue items will also resume at this time. When items are returned to the library, they will be quarantined for 72 hours before being sanitized and returned to the shelves.
As a service to patrons, new library cards can be issued and existing cards renewed by phone during this temporary shut-down.
As always, digital resources including ebooks, audio books, movies and music (via HOOPLA and OVERDRIVE) can be accessed by patrons online at www.lagrange.lib.in.us.
In addition, free internet access is available 24/7 from the library parking lots using the library’s Wi-Fi network.
Children’s Story Time with Miss Brittany will continue on the LaGrange County Public Library’s Facebook page. All other library programs are canceled, and the Bookmobile will not resume service, until further notice.
Check the library Facebook page and this media outlet frequently for updates and re-opening plans.