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COVID-19

Local Officials Address Impact Of Younger Residents On County COVID-19 Numbers

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Emilie Syberg
/
WBAA

 

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 261 COVID-19 cases in Tippecanoe County Wednesday. The biggest percentage of those cases --at 22.6 percent -- was in the 20 to 29 year-old age group.

Statewide, that age group represented 13.4 percent of cases.

Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler said the county’s demographic trend was a reminder that COVID-19 does affect younger people -- and that younger people also need to follow social distancing guidelines and use measures like handwashing and mask-wearing to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“I mean, thankfully they’re not getting that sick,” said IU Health Arnett Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Bien. “That age group is not that sick. But we will have a large number of potentially walking ill that will put the rest of the community at risk if we’re not all adherent to these guidelines that we continue to talk about.” 

Adherence to those guidelines was tested this week, as the governor’s reopening plan allowed some shuttered local businesses to resume operations.  

“We have had one of the better experiences of slowly but surely opening businesses back up,” said West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis. 

Dennis then listed the steps taken by Harry’s Chocolate Shop in West Lafayette for its reopening Monday, including the creation of space for social distancing inside the restaurant, adequate staffing, and the use of PPE.

“One thing that none of us predicted was the amount of people that would be interested in visiting Harry’s,” Dennis said. 

The mayor said he’d received multiple calls and texts from “concerned citizens” about a line of customers stretching down State Street that he described as “elbow to elbow.” 

“Management of Harry’s had actually done some segregating -- they had actually put some marks on the sidewalk indicating where people should stand,” Dennis said. “But they were disregarded.” 

Adler said the health department sent a restaurant inspector to Harry’s when made aware of the long lines. 

“An important lesson for other restaurants and other businesses from the Harry’s situation is that establishments are responsible not only for managing their crowds, but also managing their outside crowds,” Adler said.  

Dennis said Purdue’s Safe Campus Task Force, formed to address COVID-19 mitigation measures on campus, has reached out to work with the city on safely re-integrating students back into the community. 

“And yet, they’re dealing with the free radical that is somebody between the ages of 18 and 25,” Dennis said. “And they’re acutely aware of that, and they’re trying to do everything they can -- not just on campus, but even off campus, in some of the residential areas that we have off campus, to make sure that we can provide a very safe environment there.”