St. Joseph County officials provide update on COVID-19, discuss Gov. Holcomb plan

St. Joseph County officials held a press conference Friday afternoon to provide updates on the COVID-19 response. Officials expressed disappointment with the governor's decision to begin lifting restrictions in stages over the next few weeks.

Dr. Mark Fox said the county has 643 total cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths. There have been 6,899 tests completed with an average of 2.4 days to receive results.

There are currently 39 people hospitalized with COVID-19 or are suspected to have COVID-19.

The county has the ability to conduct 350 tests per weekday and Dr. Fox says the new state testing facility should be able to conduct an additional 125-160 tests per weekday.

He said they're optimistic about the trends, that the numbers have flattened sufficiently and hopes the peak won't be as high as projected.

Dr. Fox added you should continue social distancing and other recommendations for keeping yourself healthy. He also recommends wearing a face covering when out and about.

South Bend Mayor James Mueller also spoke at the conference and said he disagrees with Governor Holcomb's decision to begin reopening the economy on Monday.

"I am still astounded by the governor's announcement earlier today. Just astounded. I felt that the governor has responded appropriately until now but on this decision I could not disagree more. We're not ready to reopen." Mueller said.

Mueller said St. Joseph County had the second highest increase in cases across the state on Thursday.

He said we haven't seen the peak, or 14 days of a decline in cases, which are benchmarks for reopening cited by the CDC and the White House.

Mueller said he will work with a data driven plan that balances economy and public health.

St. Joseph County Commissioner Andy Kostielney said residents should follow the governor's advice.

He said if you don't feel comfortable going out, stay home. If your business isn't ready to reopen - stay closed.

He said it was important to give residents control over their own lives, but everyone needs to remain vigilant.

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