St. Joseph County Health Officials hope new recommendations will slow COVID spread

SOUTH BEND, Ind.--- St. Joseph County's health department released new recommendations on Wednesday in the midst of growing COVID cases in the county. High schools are now encouraged to do virtual only learning through the rest of the semester, restaurants are encouraged to only have carryout services, and family gatherings are recommended to only include individual households. 

The recommendations come as hospital capacity continues to dwindle amid the growing Coronavirus numbers in the county.

"We’ve had several deaths, just in the past couple of days," said Jen Lankowicz, Chief Clinical Officer of the St. Joseph Health System. "We’ve run out of our usual units for caring for COVID patients."

Health officials are pleading with county residents to take the pandemic more seriously as the temperatures drop and the holiday season approaches. 

"Community transmission and COVID cases are at the highest we’ve seen yet and we’re going to need everyone’s help in order to stop this surge," said Heidi Beidinger-Burnett, the St. Joseph County Board of Health president.

Officials are, however, expressing optimism that relief may come in the form of a vaccine soon. 

"They should go into the emergency authorization process, Pfizer’s by the end of this week and Moderna hopefully to follow not too long behind that," said St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Mark Fox. 

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