Thanksgiving holiday linked to several recent Covid-19 cases

Tippecanoe County is reaching record-breaking positive Covid-19 cases, leaders are finding the Thanksgiving holiday is bearing some responsibility for this.

Posted: Dec 4, 2020 8:53 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) -- Tippecanoe County is starting to see the effects of Thanksgiving gathering. On Friday, Dec. 4, the county reached 295 new positive Covid-19 cases, which is record-breaking for a single day thus far, according to the Tippecanoe County Health Administrator Khala Hochstedler

She said it's too early to determine exactly how many of these cases are linked to Thanksgiving as they're still tracking. But she reports some people who have tested positive are admitting they gathered for the holiday and she has seen a trend of several groups of families testing positive.

"Unfortunately, not enough people adhered to the guidance that we gave for Thanksgiving," said Hochstedler.

Now people are reaping the consequences. Hochstedler said she's expecting to see more Thanksgiving gathering-related Covid cases over the next few days as the virus begins settling in people's immune systems.

"We're seeing cases linked to whole families getting together for Thanksgiving and you think that at that day no one was feeling symptomatic and no one had any symptoms but you're infectious 48 hours before your symptoms start," said Hochstedler.

After seeing how people failed to follow Thanksgiving gathering recommendations, she is highly concerned for the Christmas season.

"Christmas is going to be the riskiest holiday, just because is a season and so a lot of time you celebrate Christmas the whole month," said Hochstedler.

IU Health officials are worried. Dr. Jim Bien, chief medical officer and vice president for quality and safety at IU Health Arnett, said the amount of hospitalized Covid patients is overwhelmingly high.

"We are seeing a crisis state right now," said Dr. Bien.

And while hospitals are seeing a high volume, they're also seeing that symptoms are worse for this latest group of patients. 

"Hospitalized patients as compared to patients earlier in the pandemic tend to be much sicker, we're seeing sicker people and we think that's just related to the volume of people out there who are getting the disease," said Dr. Bien.

He said the beginning of the pandemic brought in a few dozen Covid-19 patients. Now they're treating around 60. He believes that the number could rise to around 100 if people aren't careful this Christmas season. He said this bed shortage can be seen at hospitals in and around Tippecanoe County, as well as other hospitals across the state. In addition to treating Covid-19 patients, hospitals are also having to balance treating people with other illnesses and injuries.

"The hospitals are at capacity. We are making decisions to defer necessary treatments for other problems because of the volume of Covid-19 care that we have to provide," said Dr. Bien. "Christmas, our holiday celebrations, News Years, they have to look different than they have in the past." 

He said his message to everyone including health workers is to really hunker down this season so families can enjoy future holidays with all their loved ones. 

"Despite how difficult this is and how disruptive it continues to be for all of us, we have to stay focused on doing the right things to manage and reduce our likelihood of becoming patients," said Dr. Bien.

Hochstedler suggests celebrating Christmas with extended family virtually. She said she and her family will be eating and opening presents over a virtual video platform. She's encouraging the community to find creative ways to connect with extended family at a social distance this holiday season as well.

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