Dr. Niedbalski, Bartholomew County Health Officer provided an update. Highlights include:

• Update on state and county COVID-19 numbers
• Two additional deaths of Bartholomew County residents this week
• Usage of masks in public settings
• New program, in partnership with Mayo Clinic, uses plasma from donors of those who have recovered from COVID-19. This helps patients who are currently sick to recover more quickly
• Posts on social media about businesses reopening — non-essential businesses will remain closed until Governor lifts stay-at-home order
• Thanks to all those who are working to assist the community

Transcript:

Good afternoon, I am Dr. Brian Niedbalski, Bartholomew County Health Officer. I wanted to provide updated information about the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some updated numbers:  State cases are up to 10,154 from 6893 a week ago. County cases are currently at 130 with 6 deaths due to the virus. Unfortunately, we did have two additional deaths of Bartholomew County residents this week.

Possibly some good news as we might be starting to see the beginnings of a plateau in cases in Indiana. Unfortunately, it is difficult to say if this is the peak or if we will start to see a surge in cases in the next few weeks. Most models are predicting that Indiana will see its peak anytime between now into the first week of May. This reinforces the fact that COVID-19 remains prevalent and we must continue to follow the guidelines for social distancing.

A hot topic over the last two weeks has been questions about the usage of masks in public settings. Echoing CDC recommendations, we have locally been encouraging the public to wear cloth masks or some other type of facial covering when they are in a high traffic public area where social distancing is impossible to maintain. This is an extremely important request to follow in all stores, restaurants, and pharmacies. I would strongly encourage all employees of these facilities including store managers, clerks, stockers, and other staff to wear some type of mask while at work. We are aware that some people are carriers of COVID-19 and have little to no symptoms. Wearing a mask will prevent these infected persons from spreading the illness to someone else who may develop more severe symptoms. Those who are not wearing masks are putting themselves and possibly others at increased risk. It is still vital that we do whatever we can to prevent the spread of the virus in our community.

I do want to mention a new program put into place by Columbus Regional Health, through a partnership with Mayo Clinic. This program is designed to provide convalescent plasma (the liquid portion of blood) obtained from donors who have successfully recovered from COVID-19. When given to severely ill patients suffering from the virus, the plasma has been shown to improve the individual’s recovery chances. The first patient has already received the treatment at Columbus Regional.

The State Department of Health has developed a strike team that has been traveling to nursing homes throughout the state, including several in our county. This team is testing those high-risk residents and making sure the facilities are following proper protocols.

I have been made aware that there have been posts on social media about some businesses being able to slowly reopen soon. Unfortunately, until the governor lifts the stay at home order and gives the rest of the state some guidance, non-essential businesses will remain closed.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the individuals in our community for all of the hard work being done and sacrifices being made.  Remember, we are in this together.