St. Joseph County COVID-19 case rate continues to drop

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(Photo supplied/City of South Bend)

There is still great concern over the spread of coronavirus in St. Joseph County, even as the county’s coronavirus numbers are getting back under control after a recent surge.

In late August, the county’s rate of people testing positive for the virus spiked dramatically to it’s highest rate since April at around 10-percent of tests coming back positive. That number has since gone down to under 4-percent.

Still, St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox said that is not a reason to pump the brakes on measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, especially with the looming season flu about to make its return. Plus, the county is still primed to see a possible post-Labor Day resurgence.

“Because of the overlap in symptoms, essentially any respiratory illness will need to be evaluated for influenza and for COVID,” he said. “You can have both infections simultaneously so having one doesn’t rule out the other.”

These concerns are more paramount now, he says, with school districts in the county start to open back up for in-person learning in the coming weeks and with Notre Dame’s home-opening football game against Duke.

“Even with reduced capacity at the stadium and no tailgating on campus, we recognize there will be a lot of people will gather to tailgate off-campus or will gather at to watch the game at area restaurants and bars,” Fox added.

South Bend Mayor James Mueller shares Fox’s concern but is confident the University of Notre Dame is taking the pandemic seriously, especially among students and staff on the school’s campus.

“Notre Dame shows when you have robust testing, you have robust contact tracing, and you figure out isolation of those infected or potentially infected, you can turn an outbreak around fairly quickly,” said Mueller.

Since Aug. 3, 626 students and staff members have tested positive for the virus and the school has a 7-day positivity rate of 3.4-percent. It will be mostly students and family in attendance for Notre Dame’s football game this Saturday.

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