New data reveals Elkhart as next COVID-19 hotspot

ELKHART, Ind. –  New data lists Elkhart, Indiana as one of several U.S cities that could be where the next major coronavirus outbreak hits.

The data is compiled by the New York Times and is updated daily. Elkhart is listed as number 15 for the highest average daily growth rate of coronavirus cases after cases have doubled every two weeks in the city.

As states and counties are reopening, many areas are seeing an increase in coronavirus cases. But in Elkhart, it’s not just an increase but a surge.

“If you look at the number of positives per day, getting up into high 69, 57, 49, that's considerably higher than it's been ever since the beginning. And then you look at those numbers as a percentage per day based on testing. And our percentages are going up of the number of positives that are being detected per day,” Jennifer Tobey, the Elkhart County Emergency Management Director said.

It might surprise you, but emergency management officials say this rapid increase in cases doesn’t seem to be related to an increase in testing, but instead the reopening of the economy.

Either way county officials say being on this list is disappointing.

“So the list of the New York Times is not positive. Clearly, that is not a list. We want to be on,” Suzie Weirick, the Elkhart County Commissioner said.

“It's very overwhelming. Yeah, we've been working hard as an incident management team since March 20. And all along the way we kind of thought we were rolling with it. And to see these numbers start spiking the way they are,” Tobey said.

Elkhart County, Indiana has over 1,000 positive coronavirus cases and almost 30 deaths.

Now new data coming from the New York Times shows the city of Elkhart as having one of the highest average daily growth rates of coronavirus cases in the U.S.

With a 5% growth rate and cases that double every two weeks.

However, the rise in cases officials say doesn’t seem to be related to increased testing.

“If it does, it has very little, you still have to look at how the hospitals are maintaining, and how many positives are coming in daily,” Tobey said. “I think it's the opening up of the economy, and how people are not understanding the new normal. I also do think that we're touching some, some cultures within our county that were untouched, like the Hispanic population. As well as the Amish population.”

The Hispanic population, the county’s Emergency Management team says is one of the hardest hit in the city.

“We're reaching out to the Hispanic population specifically right now, they are testing very high. For a percentage rate, one of our sites is reporting a 60% positive and this is anecdotal information specifically with the Hispanic population,” Weirick said. “Another set of our sites is reporting a 20% positive rate with that same population, again, a very high percentage. We don't want to keep those numbers that high.”

But if cases continue to rise at this rate, will business and travel restrictions be put back in place? Officials say that’s not likely.

“I think that that's probably not going to happen,” Tobey said. “But I could see that our public announcements, our PSA that we send out, probably start doubling up. And I think the education piece will be increased quite a bit.”

Elkhart is not the only city in our coverage area in the spotlight.

Michigan City/La Porte is listed as #9 for the highest average daily growth rate of deaths.

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