Despite relatively stable, local numbers in COVID-19 cases, Miami County’s top health official says people still need to take care as they venture out into the reopening economy.

That means continuing to practice social distancing, avoiding large crowds, washing hands, and wearing face coverings.

“These things, they are not 100 percent but they will make a big difference as far as not getting a huge surge,” Miami County Health Officer Dr. Christi Redmon told the Tribune on Tuesday.

Avoiding that large spike in numbers is the goal as restrictions ease across the state and people start venturing out into the warmer, sunnier weather. And that, she said, is mainly to protect the most vulnerable – those people over 65 who state officials have routinely said need to take extra precautions as things open up.

Those who aren’t in that group also need to do their part to protect that population, too, she said, and that can be done by not only limiting contact, but also by following the guidelines to keep numbers low.

That will ensure that the health industry has the capacity to respond to a surge, which is where state officials say things sit now. State data on Tuesday showed that 40 percent of the state’s intensive care unit beds in the state were available and more than 80 percent of ventilators were available.

“We have to know we have enough ventilators, we have to know we have enough ICU beds,” Redmon said. “And we do.”

But because the disease caused by the novel coronavirus is so infectious and because there is still so little that scientists know about – like whether it is a seasonal disease like the flu – Redmon says people should be prepared to see more get sick.

“I think a lot of people are going to get this,” she said, “we just don’t want it to happen all at once.”

As of noon on Tuesday, there had been 139 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Miami County, and one death. That case count is up from 104 cases at the beginning of the month when an outbreak of the disease at the Tyson meat packing plant in Cass County brought Miami County into the triple digits.

Whether the area sticks to that gradual trend upward following Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision to move the state on to Stage 3 of his Back on Track Indiana plan ahead of the Memorial Day is something officials will not know for awhile. Cases, Redmon pointed, don’t necessarily surface immediately after restrictions ease.

“It remains to be seen,” she said.

Redmon said that, as part of the ongoing effort to keep those cases low, business owners looking to keep their employees and patrons safe are welcome to contact the Health Department for guidance on how to open up and conduct business as safely as possible.

“We are definitely an educational resource,” she said. “I want people to feel comfortable going back to work”