6 of county’s total COVID-19 cases hospitalized

Candy Neal/The Herald
Dubois County Health Officer Dr. Ted Waflart speaks at a press conference Thursday on the lawn of the Dubois County Health Department in Jasper. County officials shared an update on the COVID-19 pandemic.

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Of the 169 Dubois County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19, a total of six have been hospitalized.

“We were informed today that one of our positive residents has recently been hospitalized,” Jo Ann Spaulding, administrative director for the Dubois County Health Department, said during a Thursday afternoon press conference on the health department’s front lawn. “Our prayers for quick recovery and healing go out for this resident.“

County Health Officer Dr. Ted Waflart as well as city, town, county and health officials attended the conference, all spread out across the lawn and all wearing masks. They attended “to show their continued support to our local businesses, schools, and individuals who are out there taking actions to help keep our loved ones, healthy and safe,” Spaulding said. A Spanish interpreter, ALASI Vice President Eber Menjivar, was also on hand to translate.

“The past couple of months have been very difficult on all of us,” Spaulding said. “This group has been working very hard behind the scenes, along with their teams to keep Dubois and surrounding counties safe.”

As of today, 1,139 Dubois County residents have been tested for COVID-19. Of the county's 171 positive cases, 39 are recovered.

“Those patients have reported feeling well, and are out of isolation,” Spaulding said. She offered her condolences to the family of the two county residents that have died from the virus.

Spaulding also reported that there have been no outbreaks at any nursing homes in the county.

Shawn Werner, count incident commander for the health department, explained the process followed when someone does test positive. “Each person receives an email or text message letting them know if they’re positive or negative. The Maximus call center puts the data into a software system called Dynamics,” he said. “All close contacts named by that positive individual are then told to quarantine for 14 days and look for signs and symptoms. After the case investigation is complete, the local health department has the ability to log into Dynamics to get their daily case counts, which then goes to our positive cases and Dubois County.”

Werner also talked about the Indiana State Department of Health Strike Team, which came to the county last week to test at Dubois County Community Corrections in Jasper and the Farbest plant in Huntingburg.

“So why was this so important in these two facilities? It gives us a scientific base method to separate the positives from the negatives at that time in the test,” he said. “Many of those individuals were asymptomatic and would have continued to spread the virus if they had not been removed from the facility.

The strike team also provides the facilities they visit with preventative measures like education, intense screening, social distancing, good hand hygiene and wearing masks, “with future hopes to eliminate it from that facility all together,” Werner said. “Luckily, both facilities already had these types of measures in place.”

Contact tracing has been going on since the beginning, Werner said.

“Our two case investigators at the health department had been taking care of that. Now that the Dynamics system has been implemented, they are doing the contact tracing at the State Department of Health,” he said. “And if they need follow up at the local level, our case investigators are doing that.”

Waflart acknowledged recent large increases in the number of positive cases in our county, which brought the strike teams to the area.

“We have been working diligently with the strike teams and our community partners on plans to contain any further spread. I am very comfortable at this time with the results of these efforts,” he said. “And I believe that we can continue to move forward with Gov. [Eric] Holcomb’s five-stage plan to reopen our state and our county.”

Spaulding said local leaders are constantly monitoring the numbers and working to make sure the county is ready to respond if there is consistent spike in the number of new cases in the county.

“If things do get worse, especially if they get worse around the state, we will be taking action on our own. We won’t be waiting for the State Department of Health,” Waflart added. “In this county, if we can’t get quick action from them, we’ll be taking the action ourselves.”

Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center’s alternative screening site for testing is moving to the hospital’s urgent care center, located at 507 E. 19th Street in Huntingburg, for better access, hospital spokeswoman Melanie Powell explained.

“The move to Huntingburg allows us to have additional hours,” she said. “Those hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday; this Monday, Memorial Day, it will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. This allows us to service our community better.

When this happens, starting Monday, the site on Second Street in Jasper will no longer be a screening site.

“At this point, we feel like we can manage and we’ve got the other sites,” Powell said. “If needed, we can reopen that site. But at this point, we believe that we’ll be OK.”

Each member of the community should continue to follow the health guidelines that have been strongly recommended, Waflart stressed.

“We all realize that people are getting frustrated, aggravated, worn out with some of the steps that we have been continuously repeating and asking them to take,” he said. “You’ve heard probably most of them already by Jo Ann and Shawn, but I feel like I have to stress them again. Basically, the guidelines we’re continuously repeating are: Wear a mask, practice social distancing, wash your hands, stay home when you’re sick, if [you are] sick, do not go to work.

“Our knowledge of this virus is limited, but there’s evidence that these guidelines help reduce the spread,” Waflart added. “And until I see something better, I strongly urge everyone to follow them.”

ISDH reported today 493 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to 30,409. A total of 1,791 Hoosiers have died from the virus. An additional 150 probable deaths have been reported.




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