TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - Phase three of Governor Holcomb's Back on Track Indiana plan is set to start on Friday. This has some leaders in Tippecanoe County concerned. A third death was reported on Wednesday in the county.
Dr. Jim Bien from IU Health Arnett said nicer weather, Memorial Day and graduation celebrations could be a dangerous combination. Phase three allows for social gatherings of 100 people or fewer. Retail can also reopen at 75% capacity.
Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler said wearing masks now is more important than ever.
"It is very important that all of us wear masks when we are in public settings this is a very important tool to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 in our community," he said.
He mentioned that the CDC has several tutorials on its website for how to make your own mask at home if you don't have access to one.
Dr. Adler also highlighted the findings of a study recently released from the IU School of Public Health. 4,600 random Hoosiers were surveyed who were tested for coronavirus. Some were even from Tippecanoe County, said Dr. Adler. Based on those who were surveyed, the study found that the prevalence of COVID-19 in Indiana is 2.8%. That equates to 186,000 people in the whole state, and 5,400 people in Tippecanoe County.
The study found that 44.8% of those surveyed were asymptomatic, meaning they had the virus but had no symptoms. And it found the infection mortality rate is 0.58%. That number may seem really low, but it is six times higher than the influenza mortality rate, which is 0.1%.
When asked what should be done about people who refuse to wear masks in public places, County Commissioner and former Sheriff Tracey Brown said it's hard to legislate common sense.
"I'm just going to tell you that you are wasting your time and energy to go against what has become the norm," he said. "Virtually everywhere I go I see people wearing masks and it wasn't like that three weeks ago."
Several Indiana cities have already canceled 4th of July festivities. Dr. Adler said they are still discussing what we will do in Tippecanoe County. He said they will have a better idea of the plan at next week's press conference.
Both hospitals are reporting some positive things. Dr. Daniel Wickert from Franciscan Health said they have 19 positive patients at their hospital and 13 under investigation. He said right now they don't have any COVID-19 positive people on ventilators and they were able to take several off ventilators in the past week.
Dr. Bien from IU Health Arnett reported that the only have six positive patients. He said IU Health Arnett is stable, patient volume is down since last week and that they are doing well with equipment and PPE needs.
Both doctors expressed the importance of people who need medical help still seeking that help at the hospital.
Commissioner Brown touched on elections, which are coming up. He said they have ordered hand sanitizer and wipes to keep voting stations clean. He said they have had many people register to vote absentee. Early voting starts on May 26th,
He also said all county and city buildings will be partially reopened to the public the day after Memorial Day. He said the Tippecanoe County Courthouse will remain in its current phase, operating with appointment orders only, until June.
Both Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski and West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis were not at Wednesday's press conference.