Elkhart County Has One Of Nation's Highest Virus Growth Rates, Hospitals Starting To Feel Impact

May 28, 2020

Merrillville testing site for healthcare workers and first responders as seen on Apr. 10, 2020
Credit Justin Hicks / WVPE Public Radio

Many Indiana counties are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases as restrictions ease, but Elkhart County is seeing new cases at one of the highest rates in the nation. That’s according to data released by the New York Times earlier this week. 

The New York Times reports that Elkhart County is ranked 15th for highest average daily growth rates of coronavirus cases. Daily growth rates are one of the factors used to predict where a COVID-19 hotspot could emerge next.

Dr. Dan Nafziger is an infectious disease specialist at Goshen Hospital. He says the hospital has seen an increase in COVID patients and is starting to feel the impact of the County’s surge.

“Part of the trouble, I think we’re running into now is those social distancing measures are being relaxed, people are back to work, and not all of the workplace settings are as conducive to keeping people safe as they need to be.”

Goshen Hospital has 53-percent ICU bed availability as of Tuesday and has overflow plans in place if needed.

Elkhart County Emergency Management Director Jennifer Tobey says she expects Elkhart General Hospital to start feeling the effects of the surge similar to Goshen Hospital.

"They're going to see that bed-patient surge like Goshen is seeing now," she says. "I would be lying if I didn't say we were a little bit nervous right now."

Tobey says the County is expected to double its positive COVID-19 cases roughly every two weeks if the trend continues.

“Some people say ‘oh, we’re hitting our peak,’ and we don’t think that’s true," she says. "We feel like our numbers are still going up and those numbers are concerning. If they do continue to double, we’re going to have some problems.”

Contact Annacaroline at acaruso@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @AnnacarolineC16

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