ELKHART — Thirty-two new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported in Elkhart County on Tuesday, and three more county residents have died of the virus, bringing the total to 21.
That makes Tuesday one of the worst days the county has seen regarding infection and death increases. The total number of Elkhart County residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 is at 525.
With 230 new local cases reported in May, almost 44 percent of the total cases reported in Elkhart County are from this month, signaling an increase in the number of new cases being confirmed. There were 22 new cases in March and 273 new cases in April.
“This is happening for a couple of reasons,” said Elkhart County Health Department spokesperson Melanie Sizemore. “People are going back to work or have gone back to work, and as people have gone and been out and about and around other people, the virus spread. We have community spread.”
Though there has been community spread of COVID-19 in Elkhart County since late March, Sizemore expects the daily increases will continue to get bigger for some time, especially after many have gone back to work and the state continues to reopen.
Many workplaces reopened on May 4, and the number of new cases has been higher since then. But the spike that the Health Department expects from reopening might not be here yet.
“That spike would probably be yet to come. The incubation period is anywhere from two days to 14 days,” Sizemore said.
She was unable to give a projection for how many people will get infected or die in the coming weeks and months but said that the trendline continues to go up.
“Will we still see more hospitalizations and positive cases? Yes. For how long? That’s when I wish I had a crystal ball because people ask me that all the time and I have no clue,” Sizemore said.
With 12 COVID-19 deaths in May, more Elkhart County residents have died from the virus this month than in April and March combined.
Given that the infection is being spread through the community, Sizemore advises that everyone should act as though they have the virus and go about their day accordingly.
“Which means to make sure that they’re socially distanced. To make sure of that, where necessary and where required, use your mask. Wash your hands a minimum of every two hours, use hand sanitizer in between washing your hands. Avoid touching your face. Wash the frequently touched surfaces,” she said.
The Indiana State Department of Health said just above 4,000 tests have been completed in Elkhart County, though the Elkhart County Health Department has said the ISDH’s number on tests locally may not be accurate.
13 deaths at GreenleafThe 21 Elkhart County residents who have died of COVID-19 were all 60 or older, according to ISDH.
A significant portion of local COVID-19 deaths have happened at Greenleaf Health Campus, a nursing home in Elkhart that reports 13 COVID-related deaths. Of the nursing home’s 57 current residents, 26 have either tested positive or are presumed positive. Twenty-three of 94 staff members are positive or presumed positive.
Trilogy Health Services, the Kentucky-based long-term care provider that operates Greenleaf, did not immediately respond to an interview request.
Statewide, 33 new COVID-19 deaths were reported by ISDH on Tuesday, bringing the state total to 1,444 deaths.
An additional 566 positive cases were reported Tuesday, bringing the state total to 25,127 confirmed cases.
ISDH reported 4,697 new tests, bringing that total to 150,510.