The latest update on the status of COVID-19 in South Bend and St. Joseph County had all leaders participating in a Friday briefing expressing cautious optimism.
"We do hope the darkest days are behind us," South Bend Mayor James Mueller said. He indicated that currently about half of all COVID-19 cases being detected per day in the county are from the Notre Dame community. Dr. Mark Fox of the County Health Dept. who joined the meeting remotely, said that he is watching the next few days very closely to see what impact Super Bowl weekend and a large party held at a local establishement for graduating ND seniors will have on future case counts.
So will the improving situation mean a full reopening for St. Joseph County?
"Our reopening is going to be more garden hose than fire hose," St. Joseph Co. Commissioner Andy Kostielney said.
The briefing also provided an opportunity to give updates on how the vaccination process is going. Eleven-percent of the county has had a first dose of the vaccine, but there continues to be concern about the Black and Hispanic community receiving the vaccine at much lower rates than white county residents (83.2% of all vaccinations so far have been among white individuals.)
There is an expectation that by mid-April that all of the most vulnerable individuals in the county will have access to the vaccine.
So far none of the variants of the COVID-19 virus have yet been detected in St. Joseph County.
On Feb. 22nd the county and the city are planning on reopening offices for in-person business, but individuals who can continue to conduct business with the county remotely are asked to do so. County meetings will continue to be held virtually and the South Bend Common Council will continue to meet virtually as well.