LAGRANGE, Ind. (WANE) – LaGrange County is experiencing high levels of COVID-19 spread, the most intense in Northeast Indiana. The Indiana State Department of Health’s color-coded map of yellow, orange and red has colored all of the region orange except for LaGrange County which is red.
“We’re very concerned,” said LaGrange County Health Officer Dr. Thomas Pechin. “Our hospital is almost completely full. Our doctors are working long hours taking care of people with this problem, but more importantly there are people in our community getting sick and seriously ill or even dying because of this disease.”
From November 2 to November 8, the county had 376 new cases with 20.41 percent of COVID tests resulting positive. 22 people died. The county was designated a red zone by the state health department for how prevalent the virus is per 100,000 people.
“We have a unique county,” Pechin continued. “We have a lot of people with independent minds, independent plans, lots of push back. They don’t want to abide by the mask ordinance. They don’t want to abide by social distancing. They don’t want to change anything in their life. They want to go on their merry way. Those people are going to be difficult to change when it comes to behavior. We can just educate those willing to be educated and try to control the disease that way.”
He’s warning that if this attitude continues through Thanksgiving, the spread can still get much worse.
“If people share Thanksgiving together with their family and friends and have large gatherings and don’t wear masks then this will be absolutely uncontrollable in December,” he said.
Parkview LaGrange Hospital is almost at full capacity and plans are being considered to start sending patients to other hospitals if all their beds get filled. The hospital does have enough personal protective equipment and medicines for the time being but that, too, could be put at threat if cases keep rising.
Pechin said their health department has doubled their education efforts at the county’s businesses, churches and general public. If the virus doesn’t slow down, they’ll also starting shutting down businesses beyond the governor’s orders.
“In the past, we’ve shown if we do the right things we can slow the spread of this disease, but right now because of fatigue, because of indifference, because of political statements, because of a lot of things people just aren’t doing the things necessary to prevent the spread of this disease.”
Pechin said they’re actively investigating where exactly in the county the virus is spreading most and working especially with those people.