The Elkhart Truth published an article on June 1, 2020 sharing that Community leaders and local health officials are warning businesses and residents to get serious about efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus after an alarming spike in the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests. More than the number of cases, however, has been an uptick in the percentage of tests returning positive, they said.

“The first couple of months we saw a daily positive test percentage of 4 percent to 9 percent,” the letter said. “Since the economy has reopened, we have seen that jump to 16 percent, and the last week the percentages of positive tests rose to 20 percent to 25 percent.”

By comparison, Indiana as a whole dropped from 18 percent to the current 7.5 percent daily positives. So while the shutdown and gradual reopening of the economy seem to be working statewide, “Our county tells a different story.”

In an open letter to the Elkhart County business community, three area mayors, the county commissioners and top business leaders on Monday said the community expected a peak in cases in mid-May in northern Indiana, “but numbers in the past week in particular are troubling.” The letter, without providing specifics, said the county is seeing record volumes of COVID-19 patients in urgent care facilities and that hospitals have more patients than ever due to COVID-19.

The article went on to quote Elkhart County Health Officer Lydia Mertz who also noted an increase in the number of positive tests. She stated, “Although some of that is because of the rise in the number of tests we have been able to do, that is not my only concern,” Mertz said. “As the state has opened up, the increased activities at work and other settings have allowed for the spread of the virus. We need to sustain significant changes in how we go about our everyday lives for the foreseeable future.”

The article encouraged all residents to keep ourselves healthy, we have to maintain the safety features that lead to initial success, she said. These are:

  • Wash your hands frequently during the day for 20 seconds with soap and water. If this is not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • Everyone who can is strongly encouraged to use a cloth face covering when they are out in a public area. Even if someone is outside, if they are close to others, they should use a cloth mask.
  • Keep distancing. Keep 6 feet between you and those around you as much as possible. Even when you are outside, you need to distance to prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Stay home if you are sick. The virus is most likely to spread when a person is just starting to feel ill. Don’t wait to see if you get better or worse – just stay home and keep away from others.
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces often

“We know the virus continues to circulate in our community, and most of us are susceptible to the infection,” Mertz said. “Please commit yourself to these public health habits that are necessary for a safe recovery.”