TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Tippecanoe County is reporting 128 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, November 4th. At its biweekly coronavirus briefing, the county health department said more of the county's case numbers are coming from generalized community spread.
Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler said they are seeing less spread of the virus coming from one source, such as the Purdue Campus. He also said they county doesn't have any major clusters or super-spreader events that have happened. Generalized community spread means that people of all ages and in all parts of the county are spreading the disease at a fairly regular rate.
Currently, Tippecanoe County has a 7.2% percent positivity rate. This is on par with the national rate, but lower than the statewide rate. However, it is still well above the WHO recommendation that communities stay at or below 5%.
Dr. Adler said we are still seeing most of our cases in the 20-29 age range. But he said they are watching an increase in cases in people 50 and over who aren't in long-term care facilities.
Dr. Esteban Ramirez said that 50-60% of Purdue's cases are coming from people living in Greek or co-operative living houses. Currently, three houses are on a large-scale quarantine and 28 or 29 are on a small-scale quarantine, with only one or two people in quarantine.
Many people were shocked to see photos of Breakfast Club lines on the day of Purdue's home-opening football game. Based on contact tracing reports, Dr. Ramirez said they are not seeing a spread of cases from this incident. However, he said we are only about 10 days out from that day, and with an incubation period of up 14 days, Purdue could begin to see more cases connected to the incident.
Dr. Adler said restaurant inspectors from the health department spoke with managers at the businesses hosting Breakfast Club activities to make sure they were adhering to the countywide restaurant mandate still in effect. He also added they have found cases linked to football watching parties through contact tracing.
He is urging people not to get fed up with slowing the spread of coronavirus.
"As case numbers begin to rise nationally, in the state and in the county, it is very important that we resist pandemic fatigue," said Dr. Adler. "For those of you who have been wearing your face coverings and practicing social distancing, thank you. For those of you who haven't been doing such things, please strive to do better."
Dr. Adler did say that transmission rates in the county's K-12 schools is remaining low. And local leaders remain optimistic as we get closer to Purdue students leaving for their extended holiday break at the end of November. Dr. Ramirez said they have a survey out now to gather information on how many students plan to stay in West Lafayette for the break. He also said the Protect Purdue Health Center will remain open 24/7 even over the break.
Since the last meeting two weeks ago, the Indiana State Department of Health has moved Tippecanoe County into the orange zone based on the county's numbers. There is concern that the county could move to the red zone if numbers continue on this trajectory.
Dr. Adler said imposing local COVID-19 restrictions is always on the table if the numbers support it.
Because of this rise in case numbers, our local hospitals are feeling the pressure building to be able to help serve all the patients who currently need care.
Dr. Adler said there are 46 people hospitalized at IU Health Arnett and Franciscan Health with COVID-19. Fourteen people are in the intensive care unit and four people are on ventilators.
At Wednesday's briefing, we only heard from Dr. James Bien from IU Health Arnett. Dr. Daniel Wickert from Franciscan Health was not able to attend.
Dr. Bien said IU Health Arnett has been at or near in-patient capacity consistently over the past two weeks. He said they are having to covert spaces in the hospital into spaces for patients. Currently, Arnett's ambulance bay is being used as a temporary holding center. He said they are having to rely on IU Health satellite locations to help the influx of patients.
"The hospitals, in summary, are under consistent pressure adult in-patient beds," he said. "We're using our regional smaller hospitals for IU Health up in Monticello and in Frankfort."
He said restricting elective surgeries is on the table as a way keep more beds open for COVID patients. He estimates there are around 300 adult beds between the IU Health Arnett and Franciscan Health hospitals.
Also, the countywide social gathering order goes into effect on Wednesday. As we previously reported, it limits all gatherings to 100 people or less. If an event is going to exceed that number, event organizers must submit a written COVID mitigation plan to the county health department at least seven days in advance of the event.