The Journal Gazette
Friday, October 09, 2020 1:00 am

2 area officials test positive

Councilman Fries, Mayor McMichael share stories


Two local government officials – New Haven Mayor Steve McMichael and Allen County Councilman and former Sheriff Ken Fries – have tested positive for COVID-19.

McMichael said he began experiencing multiple mild symptoms Monday morning at work and immediately went home and got tested. Fries said his symptoms came on about 10 days ago after a visit with a close relative who also came down with the disease.

Three or four people who work at the New Haven City Hall who had close contact with McMichael within 48 hours of his developing symptoms also have isolated themselves at home pending test results, McMichael said Thursday.

The two men join the 6,872 Allen County residents and 129,677 Hoosiers who have been reported as testing positive for the new coronavirus. The county added 74 new cases Thursday, while the state reported 1,488, its highest one-day total.

Although Michael was coughing and feeling chest congestion and shortness of breath, he did not have a fever, he said. Fever is often used to screen people for the illness.

“Frankly, I was shocked when it (the test) came back positive,” McMichael said, adding he also felt “complete exhaustion” by Tuesday.

Fries noticed it hurt when he was getting out of his car when he came home Sept. 29. “Within a couple of hours, I had a fever,” followed by “horrible body aches,” he said.

Symptoms progressed to coughing and chest congestion, Fries said. His fever was about 101 degrees for about three days, he said.

“I'm feeling better. It's been a rough week,” Fries said, adding that his wife Candy also came down with symptoms. 

“She lost her sense of taste and smell” and had cold-like symptoms, Fries said.

He did not miss any County Council meetings and the previous meeting was before he had symptoms. Fries said he has been isolating at home and will be at the end of his 14-day quarantine period shortly. He plans to get an additional test then.

McMichael said he learned of the positive results early Thursday. He has been working from home and has not left except to get tested. He attended this week's government meetings and a doctor visit virtually. 

McMichael said he has been treating symptoms and feels “reasonably well.” He thanked the residents of New Haven and the greater Fort Wayne community for their well wishes.

“I have dozens of texts on my phone,” he said during a Thursday morning interview. “Everything is very much appreciated.”

He urged residents to go home if they feel ill, get tested and stay home as recommended by health authorities.

Fries said he typically wears a face covering because he has an elderly mother with health problems and he did not want to expose her to the virus. But he didn't wear the mask when he was around the relative who became sick.

He urged residents to continue to take precautions.

Allen County Thursday did not add deaths to its total of 207. The state added 16 new confirmed deaths.

The state's  seven-day positivity  rates for all tests and unique individuals have been climbing in recent days, now standing at 5.1% for all tests 9.2% as of Oct. 1. Comparable figures for Allen County are 4.9% and 7.9%.

At a glance

New COVID-19 cases in area counties (with totals in parenthesis):

Adams: 14 (333)

Allen: 74 (6,872)

DeKalb: 13 (582)

Huntington: 7 (308)

Kosciusko: 28 (1,436)

LaGrange: 6 (687)

Noble: 6 (972)

Steuben: 12 (451)

Wabash: 3 (296)

Wells: 12 (305)

Whitley: 4 (338)

Sources: Indiana Department of Health, Allen County Department of Health, DeKalb County Health Department

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