Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler said the county’s COVID-19 case surge is expected to hit on or shortly after April 16, in line with statewide expectations — and the health department is urging county residents to abide by Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order.
Adler said while testing capabilities have continued to expand, they remain limited — and that could create an inaccurate picture of the true case count.
“One of the issues due to the lack of testing has been a suspicion that there are more cases locally than we know about,” Adler said Wednesday. “We think that will improve as testing becomes more readily available.”
Adler said the health department would start tracking “suspected” novel coronavirus cases — individuals who have been diagnosed by a healthcare provider with a probable case of COVID-19, but who did not meet testing criteria.
“Does that mean there are dozens more people who have this out there in our community?” Adler said. “Does it mean hundreds? Does it mean thousands? And that’s what we’re trying to get a better idea of by tracking the numbers of suspected COVID-19 diagnoses being made by healthcare providers.”
As of Wednesday, the county had 38 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and one death; Adler said 10 individuals have been hospitalized, and two are currently on ventilators. Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski confirmed that one city employee had been diagnosed with COVID-19, though he did not provide the employee’s department or position.
Indiana University Health Arnett Chief Medical Officer Dr. James Bien said the hospital is “in good stead” with its allocation of beds, ventilators, and protective equipment for a possible patient surge. Dr. Dan Wickert, vice president of medical affairs at Franciscan Health Lafayette, said that hospital was in the same position, adding that efforts were ongoing to increase that capacity.
“Again, waiting for the potential surge is what we’re all trying to plan for at this point,” Wickert said.
Bien also said he was concerned that non-COVID-19 patients were hesitant about going to the emergency room, waiting a day or two too long to seek treatment for timely medical concerns.
“So I want to send a message that the facilities are safe,” Bien said. “If you have an emergent medical concern, you need to go to the emergency room.”
Indiana’s current stay-at-home order has been extended through April 20.