State officials provide COVID-19 education campaign for Elkhart County

NOW: State officials provide COVID-19 education campaign for Elkhart County

ELKHART, Ind. - Today alone, Elkhart county has seen 67 additional COVID-19 cases. The county has had a 20% increase in hospitalizations in just one week. This afternoon, the area was categorized as an ‘orange’ hot spot. Executive Director of Indiana Homeland Security, Stephen Cox, is now working with the county rolling out an education campaign to help business owners mitigate the threat of the virus.

“We’re currently working with the state fire marshal’s office, with the local fire department, and fire marshal’s staff to provide education and support to organizations that are in counties or states that find themselves in the red, orange category and request assistance of the state,” said Cox.

Director Cox, a former chief of South Bend Fire Department, visited Elkhart county today to discuss personal protective equipment distribution and other efforts to curb the spread of the virus.

“So he’s actually familiar with the area and familiar with the challenges that are brought forth in this area and in this part of the state. Therefore, him coming here and being hands off meant a great deal to us,” said Chief Shaun Edgerton of Elkhart Fire.

And according to officials – the help is needed.

“Nurses are tired and doctors are tired. We don’t have any more to give,” said Dr. Bache of Elkhart General Hospital.

In a virtual town meeting, city officials explain that the hospitals in the area are at capacity. The cases are not being traced back to one specific place or gathering, but people letting their guard down.

“There’s not just one specific cause. It’s not just a nursing home outbreak, it’s not just an event or a school - it really is everywhere,” said Dr. Lydia Mertz of the Elkhart County Health Department.

When asked what the people of Elkhart can do, one message was clear.

“We are in the midst of a spike here in this area, so get out wear a mask and do the things you need to do that you have been asked to do in order to keep everyone as safe as possible,” said Chief Edgerton.

“You’re not wearing the mask to protect yourself, you’re wearing the mask to protect others,” said Dr. Bache.

The health officials also addressed herd immunity where they explained that the process would take up to 5 years and cause many deaths. Therefore, instead they say - buy a mask.

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