The Journal Gazette
 
 
Monday, December 21, 2020 1:00 am

Official sees plateau in county cases

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Although Allen County's COVID-19 case total routinely experiences triple-digit increases – including Sunday – the community's top doctor said a decrease in the pace of growth is encouraging.

The Allen County Department of Health reported another 258 residents have tested positive for the respiratory virus, bringing the total to 25,791 cases with no new deaths.

New test results statewide showed the virus has infected 6,558 more Hoosiers for a total 464,354 cases, the Indiana State Department of Health announced.

Although the recent one-day increases are consistently higher than those recorded in the summer, they are an improvement from the exponential growth experienced before Thanksgiving, said Dr. Matthew Sutter, Allen County health commissioner.

“We've seen a plateau, which is huge, because it means we've got a chance to not completely overwhelm the hospital systems before we get safe and effective vaccines,” Sutter said during a public meeting last week. “This has always been the race.”

Exponential growth, such as doubling cases every seven days, is worrisome because of the strain it puts on the health care system, Sutter said.

“There is no way to staff for that,” he said.

As cold weather sets in, the concern is whether mitigation efforts will slow the virus's spread enough so excess people aren't dying, Sutter said. He said the virus is more likely to spread indoors than outdoors.

A total of 431 Allen County residents have died from COVID-19, the local health department said.

State health officials reported 53 new deaths Sunday, including nine in northeast Indiana, bringing the toll to 7,070 lives lost.

The state agency will offer free COVID-19 testing from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday at the Whitley County 4-H Center, 680 W. Squawbuck Road, Columbia City. Other testing sites are listed at www.coronavirus.in.gov; click on the COVID-19 testing information link.

Parkview Health and Lutheran Health Network employees last week were among the first in Indiana to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Sutter received his shot Friday.

“The hope is in the vaccines,” Sutter said. “That's what's actually going to change this and stop people from getting sick and dying.”

asloboda@jg.net

New cases

Adams: 25 (1 death)

Allen: 258

DeKalb: 39

Huntington: 55 (4 deaths)

Kosciusko: 59 (1 death)

LaGrange: 12 (1 death)

Noble: 63

Steuben: 42 (2 deaths)

Wabash: 20

Wells: 16

Whitley: 18

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

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