TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Leaders in Tippecanoe County gave another update on status of COVID-19 in the county Wednesday afternoon.
Hospital leaders from both Franciscan Health and IU Health Arnett are seeing an increase in patients. Franciscan Health currently has 14 positive cases and 17 under investigation. IU Health Arnett has 16 positive cases and 10 under investigation. Dr. Jim Bien from IU Health Arnett said they have seen a 300% increase in patients overall over the past three weeks, but that they are prepared to handle overflow from the Intensive Care Unit.
Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler said that the Indiana State Department of Health's contact tracing program started on Monday.
He also said the state is predicting an increase in deaths between now and June 1st as the state starts to reopen.
Additionally, the city mayors and County Commissioner Tracy Brown all announced plans to reopen government buildings. The goal for all three is to start reintroducing some employees to government buildings over the next week, with a partial reopening to the public on May 26th.
West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis said they are at an advantage to better control contact with people at the old Happy Hollow Elementary School.
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said some city operations will move electronically permanently. He said this is to keep people safe should there be another surge before we have a vaccine.
"We are looking at this not only how we reopen slowly, but also how do we things differently going forward permanently to always make us safer from situations like this that might occur," he said.
Mayor Roswarski said this is still in the process of getting phased in, and they will work with those employees whose jobs may be eliminated to find other employment within the city.
New details about demographics of Tippecanoe County's COVID-19 cases also came to light at Wednesday's meeting.
Dr. Adler said most of the county's cases are in the 20 to 29-year-old age range. That's different from the statewide data, which has most cases in the 50 to 59 age range.
Dr. Adler said this is a good reminder that coronavirus affects people of all ages, and the big concern is that younger people will pass it on to those more vulnerable.
"You hear a lot about older individuals and people with chronic medical conditions and of course the disease does affect them, but it also can affect younger people," he said.
Most of the people who were seen in the lines outside Harry's Chocolate Shop on Monday were young people not wearing masks. Mayor John Dennis commended the owners of Harry's for taking further action to ensure safety of customers.
He said they are also working closely with Purdue to ensure that when student's come back in August per the university's plan, they can try to keep the numbers in that 20-29 age range down.