As of Wednesday morning, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases remains at three with “three or four pending cases” and no deaths reported according to Randolph County Health Officer Kenneth Sowinski. One of those people has recovered and two are in critical care, one of them on a ventilator.
But Dr. Sowinski warns that those numbers may drastically increase in the next three weeks, especially if everyone does not continue to practice social distancing and follow stay-at-home orders that are now in effect until May 1.
Sowinski said that while there most certainly will be more illness and death due to COVID-19, a great deal can be alleviated by “what we can do as individuals to make a difference.”
Last week Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued a mandatory stay-at-home directive that is in effect until April 7, although most speculate that order could soon be extended. Holcomb called on Hoosiers to stay home except when they are at work, or for permitted activities such as taking care of others, obtaining necessary supplies, and for health and safety.
Sowinski added some clarification to that order, noting that staying at home does not mean you are not to go outside. “Your home includes your yard and your porch,” he said. “You may go outside for a walk, or a run, or to ride a bike while making sure to practice social distancing with anyone else outside your family.”
Sowinski had advised last week that out--of-state travelers who leave Indiana and the come back to self-quarantine for 14 days is meant for “returning vacationers.”
“There have not been any travel restrictions or advisories other than those issued by the CDC (Center for Disease Control), U.S. Government or the Governor’s order to stay-at-home. If people elect to travel despite the stay-at-home order, we ask that they self-quarantine for 14 days in order to keep Randolph County citizens safe. This will be in effect until the COVID spread slows.”
Current trajectories estimate there will be between 500 and 1,500 Indiana deaths. Peak illness could be in three weeks, or longer. The better citizens adhere to practicing the guidelines set forth by health experts.
The Health Dept., Homeland Security Emergency Management and Ascension St. Vincent Randolph Hospital have been coordinating contingency management by submitting daily supply lists in the event local hospitals are unable to accommodate patients. That time has not come, but it may when the virus peaks.
Meanwhile, local officials are considering common sense ways to reduce the amount of people who are in stores at the same time. Sowinski suggests that only one person per family do the shopping.
“When a trip to the grocery store is needed, “stay-at-home” means one person goes, not the whole family to shop together. Limiting the number of people in a place is the entire objective. If a household has no adult to watch children, then obviously they should not be left alone, but in a home with more than 1 adult, only one should shop while the other watches the kids.”
It is not acceptable for a group to get together for recreation, especially if it includes contact with another person or using a common ball. “The ball is touched by multiple people and close contact violates social distancing,” the health expect said. “This is EXACTLY how COVID will spread. When people gather in busier stores or do things together that are unnecessary.”
“Our actions as an individual affects our community. When we decide to travel against advice, have the attitude that I’m young and healthy so it doesn’t matter much if I get it, then engage in ill advised riskier travel, less rigorous hygiene, ignore social distancing, or are overly critical of others “hysteria,” then we contribute in a harmful way to the spread of COVID-19. While you may survive the illness, when we contribute to the community spread of disease by minimizing the importance of adhering to the recommended restrictions, then it is our parents, grandparents, and ill neighbors that pay the price. Others are harmed for our poor decisions.”