Now that Thanksgiving is in the rear view mirror and the December holidays loom large, South Bend Mayor James Mueller says, "It's not inevitable we will have a medical catastrophe." But he reminds area residents that he believes there is "no margin for error."
"These are gonna be dark days in the winter," he acknowledges as fears continue that more holidays will mean more spikes in local COVID-19 cases.
St. Joseph Co. Commissioner Andy Kostielney announced that St. Joe Med Center is partnering with the county and the fairgrounds to offer more testing. Today (Fri., Dec. 4) is also the first day that businesses in the county can be fined for noncompliance with local face mask orders.
Dr. Mark Fox with the St. Joseph Co. Health Dept. says that the latest data shows that the average turnaround time for COVID-19 test results locally is five days. He blames that partly on Thanksgiving and hopes to get that time back to three or four days. As for vaccination plans, he says that in St. Joe Co. healthcare workers and staff and residents of long-term care facilities will be the first to get the doses. He expects that could happen as early as Dec. 17. He says that St. Joseph Health System is the designated organization that will be coordinating the first round of vaccinations.
As for the newly released CDC guidance shortening quarantine periods, Fox says that he is concerned that could create too much demand and possibly a shortage of COVID-19 tests. One scenario the CDC has outlined allows a 7-day quarantine if an individual has a negative COVID-19 test on days 5, 6 or 7 of that time period. Fox says he believes that it will be difficult to implement a "testing out of quarantine" approach in the near term locally.