Christmas is just over a week away, and unfortunately it looks like many families will be dealing with the ongoing COVID pandemic for the holidays.
In his weekly update on the status of the pandemic here, Switzerland County Health Officer Dr. Scott Frede continues to stress for residents to maintain social distancing, wear masks, and protect the elderly and others who may be most susceptible to contracting the virus.
“The number of cases of COVID-19 in our community continues to increase as it has throughout the country,” Dr. Frede said. “While Switzerland County has done very well with respect to the rest of the state, our county is again in the ‘Orange’ desgination since last week. We are experiencing a significant surge of cases in the community since Thanksgiving, which will likely impact our schools, senior living centers and businesses.”
Dr. Frede said that. as of Tuesday December 15th, there has been a total of 428 positive cases and six deaths since March — with 98 currently active cases. There have been six deaths in Switzerland County attributed to COVID-19.
Over 3,000 people in Switzerland County have been tested.
The 428 figure represents a rise of 88 cases in one week — a startling figure as more and more people are staying inside because of the weather.
The 88 new cases in the past seven days represents nearly 21-percent of the total number of cases here since tracking began in March.
Even more chilling is that the number of positive cases here has more than doubled in the past month.
On November 16th, the Switzerland County Health Department was reporting that the county had a total of 210 positive cases.
On December 15th, that number had jumped to 428.
The total of 428 as of Tuesday, December 15th, compares to:
• November 16th: 210 positive cases.
• November 17th: 242 positive cases.
• November 23rd: 260 positive cases.
• November 30th: 285 positive cases.
• December 8th: 340 positive cases.
• December 15th: 428 positive cases.
Essentially for the past month (from November 16th to December 15th), the total number of cases here in Switzerland County has grown by 218 — so 51% of the county’s overall cases have been diagnosed in the past month.
“Recently the Centers for Disease Control have revised quarantine guidelines for close contacts to a person with COVID-19,” Dr. Frede said in an earlier statement. “These revised guidelines are only applicable to close community, school, or workplace contacts and specifically not to continuing household contacts. The revised guidelines also only apply under two circumstances. The first is that the person exposed remains asymptomatic, with no symptoms of illness. The second is that the person exposed has fully isolated themselves from any further exposure to a person who is known to be positive. Only if these two conditions are met can self-quarantine end after 10 days instead of 14.”
Dr. Frede said that alternatively, (provided no symptoms develop) a person could get tested after five days, and if negative can return to school or work after seven days.
“Again this applies to people exposed and not ill,” Dr. Frede said. “It does not apply to someone who has tested positive themselves, continues to have daily close household contact with somebody who is positive, or has any symptoms of illness.”
And the doctor continued to stress precautions even in family settings.
“We continue to see community spread through social and family gatherings without masks or social distancing,” he said. “While it is certainly true that most people infected with coronavirus have mild-to-moderate or no symptoms at all, it is important to wear masks, wash hands and socially distance to prevent unwittingly spreading COVID to someone who could become seriously ill or die from it. High risk groups include grandparents, the elderly, and conditions such as tobacco use, obesity, uncontrolled diabetes, cancer, or other conditions that might compromise their immune system.
“It is important to think about high risk people rather than thinking about how inconvenient or troublesome the mask is, and regardless of individual beliefs about whether masks and distancing are effective. We are very fortunate in this community to have a personal connection with each other. Thankfully most are considerate of these high risk groups and use masks, wash hands often and socially distance.”
As has been going on for the past several weeks, Dr. Frede reminds everyone that free, outdoor testing in your own vehicle without a doctor’s order is available at the Switzerland County Medical Building through a partnership with the Switzerland County Health Department, The Indiana State Department of Health and Kings Daughters Health.
The program is for testing only. Ill patients or people who wish to consult with their healthcare provider should call their healthcare provider as usual. There is signage indicating directions.
The hours of free testing are” Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the first and third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. until noon.
Those wishing to be tested are asked to register through https://scheduling.coronavirus.in.gov or call (812) 801-8707 for instructions.
“Mask up, Wash up, keep your distance,” Dr. Frede reminds everyone. “If you or your family are ill, do not send your kids to school and stay home from work.”