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Volunteers step forward to sew masks

HC reports second COVID-19 death
Volunteers step forward to sew masks
Volunteers step forward to sew masks
Lori Kiesler reaches for another bag of supplies for mask making last Wednesday morning while Lori Davis checks off who the supplies are going to. The kits were put together at the Harrison County Government Center and distributed from there. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor

A number of Harrison Countians stepped up last week in response to a plea to sew 800-plus masks that will be given to first responders and medical personnel. Kits were put together at the government center and then distributed last Wednesday to those who volunteered to make the masks.

This came about the time that Dr. Kristina Box, commissioner of the Indiana State Health Dept., recommended that everyone wear masks when going out in public, more to keep them from spreading COVID-19 rather than keeping them from getting it.

Box said Hoosiers can feel confident they have recovered from the virus if they are asymptomatic for seven days and a minimum of 72 hours free of a fever without aspirin.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had previously recommended that people social distance and keep groups to less than 10 people, Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered churches closed for Easter weekend. Many of the churches in Harrison County had already begun holding virtual services.

Since last Wednesday, Harrison County recorded a second death of COVID-19. Exactly one week after a 38-year-man succumbed to the virus, an 86-year-old woman died from it.

As of yesterday (Tuesday), Indiana had seen 387 residents die from the coronavirus. The most deaths, 141, have occurred in Marion County followed by 31 in Lake County and 27 in Hamilton County. Other counties reporting double-digit deaths are Johnson (21), Madison (16), Allen (13), Hendricks (11) and Decatur (10); 34 of the 92 counties haven’t reported any deaths.

The older population — 80-plus — account for 37.7% of the deaths. That’s followed by ages 70 to 70 (29.2%) and 60 to 69 (21.2%). The numbers drop to 7.8% for ages 50 to 59, 2.8% for those 40 to 49 and 1.3% for the 30-to-39 age group. More males — 59.7% — have died than females.

In response to those who have compared COVID-19 to the flu, Box said Indiana, on average, sees between 150 and 160 influenza deaths annually during a seven-month time period.

Since Indiana confirmed its first case of coronavirus on March 6, all 92 counties now have at least one confirmed case. Marion County has the most, 3,063, followed by Lake (819), Hamilton (499), Hendricks (350) and Johnson (329).

Box said earlier this week that Marion County is expected to peak first, estimated to be at the end of April, followed by the rest of the state peaking within the first two weeks of May.

With test kits becoming more readily available, the number of people being tested has increased. Ohio County has had the least number tested, 12, while Marion County leads the way with 15,046. Other counties exceeding 1,000 completed tests are Lake (3,813), Hamilton (2,529), Johnson (1,827), Hendricks (1,331), Elkhart (1,039) and Tippecanoe (1,015).

The 50-to-59 age range has the most confirmed cases (19.9%), followed closely by those age 40 to 49 (17%) and age 60 to 69 (16.8%). More females (54.9%) have tested positive than males (44%).

A drive-thru testing clinic was set up in Merrillville last week followed by ones this week in Sellersburg, Evansville, Fort Wayne and Gary. These are for testing health care professionals, first responders and essential workers, as well as their family members who are showing symptoms of COVID-19.

The state health department announced that 313 additional Hoosiers were diagnosed with coronavirus since Monday through testing at the ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories, bringing the state total to 8,527. To date, 46,017 tests have been reported to the ISDH, up from 44,539 on Monday.

There has been concern about the possibility of there being too few ICU beds and ventilators. As of yesterday, the state reported that 46.3% of ICU beds were available and 74.5% of ventilators were not being used.

Part of a mandate issued March 27 by Dr. Andrew Morton, Harrison County’s health officer, has since been rescinded. In that mandate, he ordered, among other things, the closing of golf courses, pro shops and clubhouses

“In an evolving situation such as this pandemic, early on we had significant unknowns and rapidly changing guidance from the state and the CDC,” said Carrie Herthel, the county’s health administrator. “After taking into account the most recent guidance from the state, which allows for individuals to engage in outdoor activity in open recreation areas provided they comply with the social distancing requirements, I had a discussion with the golf course, who provided me with a written plan to maintain public safety as well as enforce social distancing.”

With fewer motorists on the roads due to the governor’s stay-at-home orders, Joe McGuinness, commissioner of the Indiana Dept. of Transportation, said this will allow highway projects to proceed, often at a quicker pace. He reminded motorists to continue to obey posted speed limits.

Asked about crossing state lines, Holcomb said no one should be traveling across state lines unless they are conducting essential business.

Marion County has a “warning” travel advisory in place, meaning individuals are directed to refrain from all travel and comply with necessary emergency measures; cooperate with public officials and disaster services forces in executing emergency operations plans; and obey and comply with lawful direction of properly identified officers.

Twenty-eight counties are at “watch” levels, while 10 are at the lowest level of local travel advisory.

The remaining counties, including Harrison, Crawford, Floyd and Washington, have no advisories issued at this time.