ELKHART — Nobody seems to know how many people have been tested for COVID-19 in Elkhart County, but getting test results can take up to 12 days.
Melanie Sizemore, Elkhart County Health Department public information officer, said much of the testing is being done at the two hospitals in the county.
“We really don’t know, because both of the hospital systems are doing (the testing), and we’ve just not been able to gather that information,” Sizemore said. “So honestly, we don’t have a number.”
Elkhart General and Goshen Hospital are a part of a county COVID-19 incident management team that also includes the county’s health and emergency management departments. The county has asked the hospitals to share their numbers, Sizemore said.
“And even they can’t provide it,” she said.
Beacon Health System late Thursday said it is providing testing numbers to the county.
As of Wednesday, 144 people had been tested for COVID-19, spokesperson Heidi Prescott said. Of those, results have come back from 44 tests, and three of those were positive. The average time for getting back test results at Elkhart General is seven days. Goshen Health said they "are not able" to share their numbers, though they did not say why.
Last Friday, Elkhart County Health Officer Dr. Lydia Mertz said just over 100 people had been tested at Elkhart General. Elkhart General would not confirm that number on Thursday. Mertz had also said that about 50 people had been tested at Goshen Hospital by last Friday.
As of this Thursday, seven cases of the coronavirus had been confirmed in Elkhart County, but according to Sizemore, it is safe to assume that more people than that have the virus.
“There are not enough tests anywhere. It’s not just Elkhart County, it’s anywhere,” Sizemore said. “They are not testing everybody.”
Adding to that, it is taking a while for test results to come back.
“We were told it should take three to five days, and in some respects we’re waiting 12 days,” Sizemore said.
But she said “a lot” of the tests in the county have come back negative. In many of those cases, people who were tested turned out to have the flu.
That does not mean Elkhart County residents should take the situation any less seriously. People should stay at home, as Gov. Eric Holcomb has ordered. In order to stop the spread of COVID-19, it is best to assume that the virus is everywhere, Sizemore said.
The Elkhart County COVID-19 hotline allows residents to call with their questions from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. The number is 574-523-2106.