Starke County Public Health Nurse Frank Lynch wants to remind residents to be more aware of the role we all play when it comes to protecting ourselves and the community from the novel coronavirus.

As reported in the past, 35 cases were recorded in Starke County in June, 90 in July, 53 in August and 66 in September. As of Thursday, Oct. 22, Starke County had more than 130 cases reported for the month of October.

Lynch shared, “With cases on the rise and hospitals at capacity I want to put something out to reiterate what other health departments are saying. In Starke, we have seen schools going to virtual learning this month due to cases being identified and this week I am seeing an increase in individuals ages ranging between 60 and 80s, households testing positive for COVID-19 and hospitalizations.” 

He added that he’s also seen many businesses not enforcing the mask mandate, members of the public not wearing masks, and individuals not maintaining 6 feet of distance from people outside of their household. 

He went on to explain, “Wearing a mask over your nose and mouth, maintaining social distancing, washing your hands and not touching your face are some of the best tools we have to keep from spreading this to someone who is not going to tolerate it well.” 

According to Lynch, the majority of cases he sees are individuals with mild to moderate symptoms that are mistaken for a cold, flu or allergies, or they exhibit no symptoms at all. 

The public health official warned, “If this is the start of the second wave or another, bigger spike like what we saw in July, is still unknown yet but predictions of the next 6-12 weeks indicating higher case numbers than we have seen, call for all of us to do what we can to not spread this to others.” 

One article shared by Lynch was written by Boston Globe author Martin Finucane. It referenced epidemiologist Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease research and policy, who noted that the next six to twelve weeks are “going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic.”

In the same article, it notes that a “chorus of experts have been saying they are expect a surge in cases in the coming months unless the United Sates steps up its efforts to prevent it. 

The public is urged to take precautions to help prevent the spread, “Assume everyone has it. Get your flu shot. Distance when out of the house and wear your mask.” Lynch continued, “Contact your family doctor if you are having symptoms, stay home if you are awaiting test results.”

As a reminder, if you test positive for COVID-19, you need to isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started. Before leaving quarantine, you should have 24 fever-free hours of symptoms getting better (without fever reducing medications). If you have no symptoms, you should isolate 10 days from when your test was conducted.

If you are a close contact of a positive case, do the whole 14 day quarantine whether you feel okay or not since symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure to the virus. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, other members of your household should also quarantine while you wait for your results.

Public Health Nurse Lynch concluded his reminder with the following call to residents, “When contacted by the State Department of Health, please respond so they can conduct the investigation and contact tracing as this is the only way to get this under control. Please take care of yourselves and loved ones.”

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