As Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced new restrictions Wednesday on counties flagged as orange or red on the state’s color-coded COVID-19 map, Tippecanoe County officials appealed again to residents to help slow an escalating local case spike as the holiday season approaches, colder weather sets in, local school corporations shift to remote learning, and local hospitals remain under pressure.
“Obviously we’re in a situation where this is getting worse, to the point maybe even of critical,” said County Commissioner Tom Murtaugh. “So we’re here to ask, as a community, that you please do everything that we’re asking you to do in regard to wearing your masks, making sure you’re staying home if you’re sick, that you limit your interaction with (the) public, that you get your flu shots.”
“We are experiencing numbers of positive and suspect patients as high as we have ever had,” said Dr. Dan Wickert, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health Lafayette. “We are prepared for this, and taking additional steps to continue to prepare for this.”
Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler said the county’s COVID-19 case rate is increasing at an “alarming” rate, with 1,026 cases reported in the past seven days --
“To put that in perspective, a month ago we had about a 54 case average per day,” Adler said. “Two months ago, it was 30 cases. So we’ve seen a substantial increase in the number of new cases here in our county.”
The Indiana State Department of Health reported 98 cases in Tippecanoe County in its Wednesday update, down from 177 reported cases Tuesday.
Adler said the health department has still not traced the increase in cases to any specific activities or organizations, and that generalized community spread remains behind the uptick.
Wickert and IU Health Arnett Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jim Bien said conversations about elective procedures continue as beds continue to fill at area hospitals. Wickert also said COVID hospitalizations trail a spike in case numbers by one to three weeks.
“And so as our numbers continue to increase, that is worrisome to us that our numbers in the hospital will continue to increase also,” Wickert said.
Officials will meet Thursday to discuss the county’s next steps and the governor’s newly released guidelines.
Correction: a previous version of this story said the average number of cases for the week was 114. The correct number was 140.