Werner: Too early to tell what spike in cases means

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

The Dubois County Health Department reported 15 new cases of COVID-19 in the county Tuesday — the largest number of new cases reported for a single day since mid-May. The department reported zero new cases today.

While the large number of new cases is a cause for concern, the health department’s interim administrative director, Shawn Werner, said it’s not yet clear if the spike in new cases represents an uptick in the virus in our area.

“We are closely monitoring that, but it’s kind of too early to tell,” Werner said.

He explained that the large number of new cases could be the result of delayed test results due to the Fourth of July holiday or a result of more testing being done in the county since OptumServe Health Services opened a testing site at Ruxer Golf Course in Jasper last week.

The testing site is located at 400 S. Clay St., Jasper, and its hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Testing is by appointment only. Appointments can be made online here or by phone at 888-634-1116.

Also difficult to pin down is the overall picture of how the county is faring against the virus. Werner said that according to data reports from the Indiana State Department of Health, Dubois County is in line with other counties in terms of the percentage of the population that has tested positive for the virus. But a few weeks ago, Dubois County was high by that metric.

“That seems to be evening out now, though,” Werner said.

He stressed the need for everyone in the county to continue to take the virus seriously and follow safety measures recommended by the health department, the state and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those measures include wearing a face mask when in public, frequently washing hands and surfaces, and observing social distancing as much as possible.

Although Dubois County — and Indiana as a whole — is reopening the economy and easing restrictions, Werner said that does not mean the virus has gone away. People should still stay home as much as possible. “We want to try to really make the public aware of what they’re doing and thinking about if they really need to be doing it,” Werner said.

When in public, it is recommended to wear a face mask.

“That face mask is really about protecting the people around you,” Werner said. “It keeps those respiratory droplets in the mask instead of spreading out toward everyone.”

Werner took over as interim administrative director of the health department last week after the former director, Jo Ann Spaulding, left the department. Although leadership has changed, the health department’s goals through the pandemic remain the same: to stop the spread of COVID-19, to keep the workforce healthy and to keep the medical system from getting overwhelmed. The biggest concern, Werner said, is having to pause or move backward on stages of the Back on Track Indiana plan.

“We want to keep moving forward as much as possible,” he said.

So far, those goals have been possible. Of the 288 cases reported in the county, 247 have recovered, and most have recovered without needing hospitalization.




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