Southeast Indiana counties seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases; Lawrenceburg hospital at 90% capacity

Dearborn, Fayette and Ohio counties all at state's 'red' level
Posted at 4:20 PM, Oct 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-29 18:06:17-04

LAWRENCEBURG, Ind. — COVID-19 numbers in three southeast Indiana counties are high and show no sign of slowing down any time soon.

“They started going up after the Labor Day weekend and they just didn’t stop,” said Dearborn County health officer Stephen Eliason. "I’m hoping that they will go down, but they’re not so far.”

Dearborn, Fayette and Ohio counties are all at the state’s "red" risk level, the highest level for COVID-19 in Indiana. The counties are at this level because their seven-day positivity rates, the proportion of positive tests relative to all tests performed, are higher than 15%. The state-wide positivity rate is less than 10%.

Dearborn County reported 258 new cases in the last seven days, bumping its positivity rate up to 17%. This is the county’s second week of being in the red, and Eliason said he expects to enter a third week at the highest level. Its major concern now is hospital capacity, he said.

Eliason reached out to officials from Highpoint Health, a hospital in Lawrenceburg, who told him they have had to open new beds.

“I just got off the phone with somebody from there, they’re over 90% occupancy and they have been for at least a couple of weeks,” he said.

The spike in cases is being attributed to more indoor gathering and families getting together more often, Eliason said. He said another factor is people crossing state lines to get to their jobs.

“The only thing that I know that I can recommend is the stuff that everyone has heard ad nauseam at this point, but wear your mask, social distance, stay home if you’re sick,” he said. “I really think the problem is the smaller gatherings where most of this is happening.”

Speaking Wednesday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb also stressed the importance of personal responsibility.

“We need individuals to understand that their actions have consequences, too, or their inactions have consequences,” Holcomb said. “Anything we can do, including this most important thing, is going to help your community get through this and stay up and open.”