County no longer top COVID-19 hot spot

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

Dubois County is no longer No. 1 in the state for COVID-19 cases per capita.

“We’re seeing a little bit of a slowdown in this,” said Shawn Werner, administrative director of the Dubois County Health Department. “And that’s what we’re hoping for.”

Information compiled by the New York Times ranks Dubois County as fourth in the state. Ohio County is at the top of the list, followed by Franklin and Tipton counties. Pike County ranks No. 5 on the list.

Data collected by the Harvard Global Health Initiative shows Dubois County at No. 5, behind Ohio, Franklin, Tipton and Pike counties.

Local health officials are noticing that most people are now wearing masks as requested, since the statewide mask mandate went into effect. “It’s looks like they’re doing pretty good, from my observation,” said Dubois County Health Officer Dr. Ted Waflart.

Tammy Humbert, director of the Dubois County Emergency Management Agency, agreed. “I went to the store Sunday afternoon,” she said. “There was not one person in that store that did not wear a mask.”

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order mandating people to wear masks as of July 27. The order requires face coverings for anyone age 8 and older who are in public indoor spaces and commercial entities, using public transportation or other vehicle services like taxis or ride shares, or in outdoor public spaces when it’s not possible to socially distance from people not in the same household. The order will has exceptions for medical purposes, disabilities, exercising, and eating and drinking.

It is too early to tell what effect the masks are having on the number of positive cases in the county. “It’s going to take a minimum of two to three weeks before we see the effect” of the mask mandate, Werner explained.

But they’re glad that people are abiding by the mandate.

“I’m glad to see that people are taking the mask mandate seriously,” Humbert said, “and encourage everyone to continue to do this so that we can get through this pandemic.”

The OptumServe testing site at the Ruxer Golf Course building in Jasper is staying busy testing people. Of the people who have gotten tested there, 60 to 70 have been county residents or people who work in Dubois County, Werner said. The rest have come from other counties.

“They’re still seeing pretty heavy use there,” he said. “It fluctuates by the week. They’ve seen travel from as far as Bloomington, Evansville and Perry County.”

But the OptumServe site was never intended to be a permanent site. The state is working with the health department to provide a year’s worth of funding to run a testing site in the county.

“Our goal is keep an alternate testing site available here,” Werner said.

Memorial Urgent Care Center in Huntingburg tests symptomatic people. “We want to have a site [for] those named as close contacts and for anyone who feels the need to get tested,” Werner said.

The OptumServe site is testing people who think they may have been directly exposed to COVID-19. Officials are seeing that some of those people are not self-quarantining while they wait for the results to come back.

“You need to stay in quarantine,” Humbert said. “If you’re testing because you’re afraid that you’re positive, then you need to quarantine.”

Also, the person should wait until five days after being exposed before going to get a test, Waflart said. “If you were exposed today or yesterday, and you go get tested now, it’s not going to show up yet,” he said.”

“It takes about five days for the virus to build in your body,” Werner said. “If you test too soon, you’re getting a false sense of hope that you’re going to be negative throughout. And that’s not the case.”

The health department is still receiving many calls from the public about COVID-19 concerns. Nurses at the health department are each covering a week to handle the calls. Werner hopes to hire a COVID-19 clerk soon to step in and handle the calls. He will talk to the Dubois County Council Monday about funding for the position.

Local COVID-19 information can be found on the health department’s page on the Dubois County government website, www.duboiscountyin.org. General information about COVID-19 can be found on the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention website, www.cdc.gov.




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