Spike in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations

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SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- The spike in COVID-19 cases are leaving a huge burden on hospitals in St. Joseph County and health department officials are calling for community action to step up their game.

According to data from the St. Joseph County Health Department, as of Friday 63 people are hospitalized across the county, with 57 of them testing positive for the coronavirus.

It’s the highest hospitalization rate since late April when the county peaked with 76 people in need of care.

“If people in the community continue to be infected at the rate that they are currently and the number of infections continues to grow that will continue to stress the resources of the health systems and the ability for us to provide great care to everyone in the community,” Beacon Health System Doctor Dale Patterson said.

St. Joe County Health System has 36 patients being cared for for the coronavirus right now.

Both St. Joe Health and Beacon Health Systems said fortunately they have more readily available ventilators for critically ill COVID patients than in previous months, however, they worry if the cases keep climbing that they won't have enough beds to treat patients.

“Yesterday I mentioned to Mr. Parrot as I was speaking with him that we only had 3 beds left in our intensive care area. That was pretty frightening,” St. Joseph County Health System Doctor Genevieve Lankowicz said. “We’re here today to really plead with our community to be more careful with infection prevention measures in wearing masks and distancing in particular.”

St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox said community members here at home and those at the White House in Washington D.C. need to take the pandemic and CDC recommendations more seriously.

“We have reports that some very prominent people in the country had significant exposures and yet continue to go about their daily work without any restrictions. We have similar reports from less prominent people in the county, people who have decided not to get tested despite exposures,” Dr. Fox said.

Even though Governor Eric Holcomb moved Indiana into the fifth and final stage of his Back on Track plan last week, doesn't mean the pandemic is behind us.

“Our vigilance in this area really just can’t slack off at this point in time we don’t want to see numbers like this persist,” Dr. Lankowicz said.

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