Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson held a town hall meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 21, to review the county’s COVID-19 status with the County Health Officer and the Vice President of Medical Affairs at Elkhart General Hospital.
When asked whether the county might be moved to the state’s red designation, Drs. Michelle Bache of Elkhart General and Lydia Mertz with the county health department emphasized how quickly the county moved to “orange,” and suggested it may take only a week to move to “red.” At that point, Mertz said both she and the state would likely enact restrictions.
“They certainly would and I certainly would want some limitations on the size of group gatherings," Mertz said.
Bache said all area hospitals are struggling to absorb the influx of COVID-19 patients. Her hospital, Elkhart General, is operating at 30 percent above its normal patient capacity with the same number of staff.
“We are at capacity. We can’t go another week with another 20 percent increase in our cases,” Bache said.
Yet cases continue to rise, as do deaths. Mertz said that from Oct. 1-17, Elkhart County exceeded the death toll of the entire month of September.
She says community spread is the culprit — people letting their guard down and not following safety protocols around friends and family. With the holidays coming up, Mertz urged community members to consider alternatives to traditional celebrations.
“You may be able to have a more normal Thanksgiving next year if you can keep everybody alive this year,” she said.
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