County urged to do its part after virus deaths

By OLIVIA INGLE
oingle@dcherald.com

Two COVID-19-related deaths have been confirmed in Dubois County.

“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the loss of our first resident of Dubois County to novel coronavirus (COVID-19),” said Dubois County Health Officer Dr. Ted Waflart in a prepared statement Monday afternoon.

A similar statement was released late this morning when the Dubois County Health Department announced the county's second death.

“It is tragic whenever there is a loss of life,” Waflart added. “This is not the kind of news we ever want to announce. This serves as an unfortunate reminder to all the community about the importance to do all we can in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and help protect our most vulnerable friends and neighbors. The threat of this virus is real. We all have the ability to make a difference, and we all have the responsibility to keep each other safe.”

The health department said that both individuals who died had underlying medical conditions. Due to privacy laws, the health department said it will release no further information about the patients.

“All of us at the Dubois County Health Department mourn this death and extend our prayers and sympathies to the patient’s family and friends,” Waflart said after the first death on Monday.

In a statement provided to The Herald, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center spokesperson Melanie Powell said the hospital learned of the county’s first COVID-19 death from the health department’s press release. “We extend our sincerest condolences to this person’s loved ones,” she said.

As of today, Dubois County has 58 confirmed cases of COVID-19. Twenty-six of those cases have recovered.

According to the Indiana Department of Health, in the counties surrounding Dubois:

• Martin County reports seven positive cases and zero deaths.

• Orange County reports 118 positive cases and 18 deaths.

• Crawford County reports 20 positive cases and zero deaths.

• Perry County reports 19 positive cases and zero deaths.

• Spencer County reports seven positive cases and one death.

• Warrick County reports 128 positive cases and 20 deaths.

• Pike County reports three positive cases and zero deaths.

• Daviess County reports 55 positive cases and 15 deaths.

Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide said at the beginning of this morning’s Jasper Board of Public Works and Safety meeting that the county’s first death is concerning.

“Of course, your goal is always zero,” he said. “But we have one. And unfortunately, that’s the beginning of it, I think. And there will be more.”

He added: “It’s not just about us, it’s about protecting the others around us. And I just ask that everyone does their part. And if we all do that, we can minimize this impact in our area.”

Dr. Stephen Sample, a Memorial Hospital emergency room physician and Dubois County Emergency Services medical director, emphasized Monday evening that the county’s actions are important.

“I think that this should be a wake up call to the county that though we have been lucky early, that there is no place in the nation that is likely to be spared from death,” Sample said. “It is up to me, and the other local health professionals, to do our best to keep our community alive once illness sets in. It is going to be up to the community to keep their vulnerable loved ones from ever needing to meet us in the first place.”

The health department reminds the public that the best way to protect yourself and the rest of our community is to wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your face, avoid close contact with people who are sick, stay home when you’re sick, cover your cough or sneeze, and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Health officials also say it is important to wear a cloth face mask when out in public, and to continue social distancing even when you wear a mask.

Herald reporter Allen Laman also contributed to this story.




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