County health administrator provides COVID update

By STEVEN MURREY

On Wednesday, the state reported 630 new cases of COVID-19, with eight additional deaths. Madison County reported 11 new cases for July 28, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 785.

A week ago, Madison County reported 18 new cases, the largest single-day total since mid-April. County Health Administrator Stephanie Grimes attributed the rise in cases to increased testing capabilities.

The county’s positive test percentage has declined slightly from this time last week, hovering at 7.7 percent compared to 7.8 percent last week. Indiana’s statewide positive test percentage has also declined slightly since last week, from 9 percent to 8.9 percent.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Tuesday that Indiana was seeing early signs of an outbreak, like the ones that have ravished the southern states. Fauci said this was attributed to people traveling to hotspots and returning to rural areas.

Grimes said she did not have the same concerns, especially relating to Madison County. She said she was feeling nervous but good about school starting, with Elwood returning today.

“I anticipate an increase in cases around the third week of August,” Grimes said, adding that the increase should be manageable. “We’re going to keep following our plans, and the kids will be wearing masks.”

Asked to clarify where she expected to see the increase, Grimes said it will come from everyone.

“I expect it to start with the kids, and the kids taking it home to mom and dad,” she said. “So I expect it will be a ripple effect.”

“We’ll just watch it play out I suppose, but I’m ready to see how it goes. We’ve been planning for months, and as the date inches closer I think a lot of superintendents are ready to go,” Grimes said.

Speaking on Governor Holcomb’s mask mandate, Grimes said that the Health Department’s job is to educate.

“We have no fines,” Grimes said. “But we get calls every day. We follow up on all complaints.”

Grimes said business owners can ask patrons to leave if they do not comply with the mask mandate.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Indiana has reported 64,299 positive cases and 2,733 Hoosiers have succumbed to the virus.

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