Miami County has seen more than 150 new cases of COVID-19 and two additional deaths in the last four days as the surge of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus continues across the state.
Thursday’s update from the Indiana Department of Health put the number of cases identified in the county since officials started tracking the numbers in March at 1,360. Twelve Miami County residents have now died, the report showed.
Those numbers are up from 10 deaths and 1,199 cases on Monday. They represent a three-fold increase in both deaths and cases since the surge began in early October.
On Oct. 2 the county had seen 446 cases of the disease and four deaths.
The rate of new cases has been increasing in recent days and weeks, with Thursday’s state update showing a single-day jump in cases of 72.
Miami County Health Officer Dr. Christi Redmon said it’s unclear exactly how bad it is going to get.
“I think over the next week or two we will see if we are going to be overwhelmed,” Redmon told the County Council at their Tuesday night meeting.
She said she felt many are suffering from “pandemic fatigue” and worried that they may let their guards down as Thanksgiving approaches.
But with numbers climbing at an ever increasing pace, Redmon told the Tribune on Thursday that everyone needs to adjust to the idea that Thanksgiving dinner is going to be different this year.
That means individual families should likely have dinner alone, or try having a small get together outside where people can spread out more. Either way, those who are elderly or have another underlying condition that makes them otherwise vulnerable to severe sickness or even death because of a COVID-19 infection should not be mingling with their more hardy family members.
“Do not go over and get in their space,” Redmon said.
Her warnings come as the county sits right on edge of being designated red – the designation for the highest level of community spread of the virus – on the state’s “county metrics map.”
“The likelihood that we won’t be red is low,” Redmon said.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Wednesday press briefing that every county in the state has reached the red level in terms of the rate of new weekly cases per 100,000 residents.
Miami County, on Thursday, sat at 678 cases per 100,000, more than triple the state’s threshold rate of 200 cases.
The only thing keeping Miami County out of the overall red category in recent weeks is that the seven-day running average positivity rate for all tests administered had not yet reached the state’s 15-percent mark. Reaching 15 percent would give the county a cumulative score pushing it over the line from the orange designation to red.
The last update from the state put Miami County’s positivity rate at 14.49 percent.
It will be updated again on Wednesday.
The numbers underscore the seriousness of the problem, Redmon said and she reiterated her points that the only way to avoid further problems now is through personal responsibility.
“This information is not new,” she said about the way the virus spreads and how people can protect themselves and the vulnerable.
Ignoring the guidelines can cause residents to fall ill and die, incur thousands in medical bills because of an extended stay in an intensive care unit, or further disrupt the state’s health care infrastructure, which, according to state officials is already suffering under the load of the current surge.
Redmon said she is in contact with officials at Dukes Memorial Hospital who tell her they still have surge capacity and will notify her if that changes.
But she urged everyone to take steps in the coming weeks to make sure that that doesn’t happen and that more people don’t needlessly get sick.
If residents don’t, “we are going to be facing worse times than anyone can imagine in this state,” she said.