COVID-19 cases on rise in Southern Indiana

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The number of new COVID-19 cases in Dubois County has been on the rise.

In fact, the number of cases in Southern Indiana has been increasing, Shawn Werner, administrative director of the Dubois County Health Department, told the Dubois County Board of Health Monday evening.

Dubois County recorded 83 new cases last week; that is almost double from the previous week, which had 42 new cases.

The state has moved into stage five of reopening, and part of that is allowing for larger group gatherings. Before, organizers of events with more than 250 people had to submit a plan to the health department that outlines measures to mitigate COVID-19; that number has now increased from 250 to 500.

“That’s where we’re seeing some of our problems, is in the group gatherings,” Werner said, “whether it be weddings or family get-togethers.”

Werner told the board that the southern Indiana area is a hot spot. And the data collected and tracked by the Indiana State Department of Health, the Brown School of Public Health and the New York Times shows that as of Tuesday afternoon, six Southwest Indiana counties were the the top 10 for number of cases per capita detected as positive in the past seven days. The top five on the list are, in order, Pike, Posey, Warrick, Vanderburgh and Gibson; Dubois is No. 10 on the list.

“It’s hitting Southern Indiana hard right now,” Werner told the board.

The schools seem to be doing Ok, Werner said. Greater Jasper Superintendent Tracy Lorey, who is a member of the health board, said the number of positive cases has been minimal. Students have assigned seats, which helps with contact tracing, if needed.

“It’s the number of kids that we quarantine as a result of those positives that creates the challenge,” she said. “For a high school student, if you’re sitting in six periods, there are probably anywhere from 30 to 35 kids potentially that could get quarantined as the result of one positive [case].”

When students are quarantined, they’re also not allowed to participate in school-related extracurricular activities. “That can be hard for them to deal with,” Lorey said.

Board Chairperson Dr. Jennifer Richardson asked Lorey if the schools have heard of any bullying cases in which students tell other students to not get tested. Lorey said that had not been brought to her attention.

“But we certainly wouldn’t condone nor allow that to happen if we knew it was occurring,” she said. “If you hear that, those folks need to make sure they are reporting that immediately. And we’ll take care of it.”

Werner reiterated that while the state has moved into stage five, precautions are still in place for the public.

“We still wear our masks,” he said. “We still social distance.”




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