COVID-19 Situation In St. Joseph County Improving, But Concern Remains Over Variant Strains

Jan 29, 2021

(L-R) South Bend Mayor James Mueller, St. Joseph Co. Commissioner Andy Kostielney and Dr. Mark Fox with the St. Joseph Co. Health Dept. appear at a virtual news conference on Jan. 29, 2021
Credit Screenshot from Facebook Live

"It's here or will be arriving soon."

That's the word from Dr. Mark Fox of the St. Joseph Co. Health Dept. on his predictions for the presence of variants of COVID-19 showing up in the county. He says people should operate on an assumption that they need to protect themselves from these strains which are more contagious. Although none of the strains have been detected yet in St. Joseph County, some have been detected in Indiana and in Michigan, particularly in the Ann Arbor area. 

Fox says that with Notre Dame students returning to campus for the start of the spring semester on Wed., Feb 3rd, the students will be coming in from all over the country and the world and there is a chance the strains could be imported into the county that way. Fox says both Notre Dame and St. Mary's have rigorous testing protocols in place for COVID-19. 

South Bend Mayor James Mueller reiterated the "need not to funble on the goal line" in referring to people letting their guard down too soon. He says that the county is in "a raee to get the vaccine out" ahead of when the variant strains arrive. 

Data was shared at the news conference about how many people have been vaccinated in the county and the numbers show that Black people are under-represented among these getting the shot. Officials say they hope to lean on "trusted voices" within communities of color to help get the word out to address the vaccine hesitancy and mistrust. 

St. Joseph Co. Commissioner Andy Kostielney announced that the county has received $8.1 million from the feds to put toward rental assistance.