Upward trend of COVID continues
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]
COVID-19 rates continue to soar throughout the state and nation, surpassing levels reached in the spring. Rates have increased significantly in Crawford County as well.
At the end of October, the positivity rate among unique individuals tested was 15% at the county level and 15.6% statewide.
Fast forward two weeks and those rates have spiked to 18.6% at the county level and 21.9% statewide (seven-day period ending Nov. 8).
Likewise, the number of cases continues to grow.
Crawford County had a total of 163 confirmed COVID cases as of Oct. 24. That had increased to 230 as of Nov. 15. Statewide, there have been 251,597 Hoosiers test positive for coronavirus since March 6.
One bright spot for Crawford County is that it is one of just five counties to remain at yellow (the second of four stages) based on the spread of the virus.
The vast majority of the state is at the third level (orange) with nine counties, including neighboring Dubois County, at red, the highest level. No counties are at the lowest level, blue, indicating the least amount of spread.
The rapid increase prompted Gov. Eric Holcomb to roll back Indiana’s progress from Stage 5 of the Back on Track plan and place limits on social gatherings and school events in all but the counties designated as yellow.
Holcomb has continued to stress the importance of individual behavior in slowing the spread, asking Hoosiers to continue wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands and staying home when sick.
The increasing rates, and the county’s relatively fair standing, were discussed at the Nov. 10 meeting of the Crawford County coronavirus task force.
EMS director Tim Farris said the ambulance crews have been alerted that many area hospitals, including those in Evansville, Jasper, Corydon and New Albany, are either full or close to it.
He said the ambulance run volume has increased recently with many patients experiencing respiratory issues. The onset of flu season is a major concern to medical personnel, given COVID-19 rates.
There’s virtually no way for crews to know if they’ve transported a patient with COVID since the state took over contact tracing from local health departments.
Local compliance, or the lack thereof in some cases, is another issue that has task force members concerned.
When a complaint regarding a business not enforcing directives (such as employees wearing facial masks) is received, local officials respond, but it typically does little good.
“We’ve been busy and have been getting complaints from citizens,” said Emergency Management Agency director Aaron Bye. “It’s hard to enforce. When we pull up, the masks go on and we can’t prove anything.”
Morton Dale, president of the board of commissioners, said with cases climbing, local officials need to look ahead.
“We don’t want to take everything for granted and think that we’ll have enough supplies,” he said. “I would rather store it in case we need it. Let’s see what we can do collectively to have a supply available.”
All task force members said the county currently has a good supply of personal protective equipment on hand.