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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Cass County declares health emergency as COVID-19 cases surge

The City of Logansport and Cass County have declared a public health emergency.

LOGANSPORT, Ind. (WTHR) - Cass County is a new hotspot for COVID-19 cases.

More than 1,000 residents have tested positive for the virus. Officials there declared a public health emergency Monday morning. People who leave their homes will find new and tougher social distancing regulations.

Stores are counting heads. No more than 125 customers are allowed inside the biggest of retailers. Small stores have much lower limits, with only single shoppers over the age of 16 allowed in and masks are a must.

Terry Doran said it’s about time.

“Social distancing is the only way to stop this,” he explained while talking through a face mask. “We should have done it a month ago.”

Chantial Hudson insisted the restrictions don’t go far enough. She waited in the parking lot with her children as her husband shopped alone.

“I don’t think it is helping any,” she said. “I mean, you are still out and about.”

Behind Logansport’s nearly deserted streets, public health officials are in a life-or-death struggle to get ahead of a rising curve in coronavirus cases - 1,025 and counting.

Logansport Memorial Hospital has just 83 beds. The COVID-19 care unit is already full. Administrators are concerned about being overrun with patients.

“The curve is our enemy right now,” hospital CEO Perry Gay said.

Gay worries about the numbers. The total number of COVID-19 cases surpassed the hospital’s worst case scenario.

“We knew they could get to the point where they are today,” Gay explained. “But we always looked at it as that was a possibility, not a reality. Now it is a reality."

The vast majority of COVID-19 cases are tied to the local Tyson meatpacking plant. Test results are still coming in. A county department of health COVID-19 clinic is evaluating 100 people a day.

According to Gay, the hospital has an adequate supply of PPE. One patient has been transferred to a hospital in another county. More will likely be moved when necessary. Staffing is the biggest concern.

“With the amount of people we are going to see, the biggest problem we have right now is having nurses and RTs to take care of them,” he said.

Drawing a harder, wider line on social distancing officials hope will slow the growing wave of COVID-19.