U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams warned the nation Monday that the worst is yet to come in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I want Americans to understand. This week, it’s going to get bad and we really need to come together as a nation,” he said. “Unfortunately, we’re finding out that a lot of people think that this can’t happen to them.”
The State of Indiana saw the largest spike in the number of presumptive positive cases, jumping from 259 to 365 in a single day. The number of reported tests have also increased, with nearly 1,000 more tests reported Tuesday than on Monday.
Grant County Health Officer William David Moore said he believes the rapid increase in presumptive positive cases is due in part to the virus spreading and also to the amount of tests that have now become available.
While Grant County remains at three presumptive positive cases, having identified two cases since the first case on Friday, Moore said that the peak is coming.
“We know it’s going to happen, and we’re trying to be prepared for when it hits,” Moore said.
Moore said that healthcare systems across the nation, including Grant County, are experiencing shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and will eventually have to tackle the pandemic as those on the front lines are infected as well.
“I think the entire system will be moving people around to where they’re most needed,” Moore said.
Marion General Hospital (MGH) representative Sarah Evans said the hospital is prepared to take care of the community, stating that the increase in positive cases applied mainly to Marion County and surrounding areas.
“We are continuing to be able to meet our demands on a daily basis and there are shortages of PPE and we’re exploring opportunities to continue to utilize our vendors and acquire what’s needed, but right now we’re in an OK position,” Evans said.
According to Evans, MGH has established a call center to help streamline the screening process and can direct patients to various facilities.
Evans said that in order to concentrate their efforts, MGH has reduced the number of elective surgeries last week and reduced the number of lab and radiology locations today, redeploying staff throughout the hospital.
“Were cautiously optimistic as to being in a position in a county that only, as of today, has three presumptive positive cases,” Evans said.
Though Evans said the hospital is “in an okay position” in terms of its PPE supply, Grant County Emergency Management Director Bob Jackson said in his daily briefing that PPE remains “critically low for our healthcare workers and first responders, supplies being released from the national stockpiles are not keeping up with local demand.”
Moore said healthcare employees especially need masks, gowns and ventilators.
Evans declined to disclose the number of ventilators MGH has, stating that they can be used in a number of situations. She did, however, state that MGH has the proper equipment to care for the community’s needs.
While local organizations working to secure proper supplies to help stop the spread of the virus, they are also trying to get funding. Officials like Jackson and Moore said that they are tracking their spending in hopes of turning that information over to state and federal agencies for reimbursements.
Should the county experience a large surge in presumptive positive cases, Moore said local healthcare systems will look into using other facilities for overflow, designating patients with certain needs to specific locations.
Though Gov. Eric J. Holcomb issued an order mandating Hoosiers stay home unless necessary, Moore said policing people who don’t comply with the order will be a secondary priority, warning that law enforcement agencies could also become overwhelmed.
“Don’t tire our first responders … Let’s try to work together as a community,” Moore said.