St. Joe Co. & South Bend Officials Provide Update: "Our COVID Winter Has Now Lasted A Full Year"
As of now, St. Joseph Co. Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox says that 10% of the county's residents are fully vaccinated. Deaths from COVID-19 are coming down. The county has only seen two deaths from the virus in March and there were 20 deaths in February of s021. Fox says the number of cases has hit a plateau. He says the U.K. variant that has now been detected in the county is likely to infect more people and may cause more deaths.
"We don't want to become hysterical, but we don't want to become complacent," Fox said in reference to the B.1.1.7 variant.
Fox emphasized that the variant in the county underscores the need to adhere to masking and social distancing. He says if you gather with people outside your household, you should assume you are with someone infected with the variant.
South Bend Mayor James Mueller said that within the next four to six week window "we don't want this more contagious strain to rip through those who haven't been vaccinated."
As far as ongoing vaccination efforts are concerned, a gap still exists in getting more people within the Black population to get the vaccine, but officials say they are seeing improvement on that front.
And technical glitches are still causing vaccination appointments available at the St. Hedwig site to go unfilled. Fox said that 96 appointments on Friday (March 12) were still available at the time of the 1pm briefing due to the ongoing technical problems. As WVPE has previously reported, when people click online for the next available appointment, the site is prompting people to choose appointment dates that are days out instead of offering them appointments that are available much sooner. On Wednesday state officials were asked about the problem and claimed they were aware and that it was being addressed.