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Marshall County health officers give grim coronavirus update

Published: Nov. 19, 2020 at 5:44 PM EST
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MARSHALL COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - Healthcare leaders and community partners came together to update residents about the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

These speakers are the same ones who’ve told us to for weeks if not months to mask up, wash our hands, and stay home if you feel sick to get ahead of the next wave of COVID-19.

Today’s message was an emotional one. Not only a plea for people in Marshall County to be proactive against COVID-19, but also a reaction to the uphill battle we’re still facing.

“Next time you’re out in the community and for those of you who chose not to wear a mask, you have no idea who you’re standing next to, and you might just be standing next to the nurse that will hold the hand of your loved one on their last day,” says Chad Towner.

Towner is the CEO of St. Joseph Health System, and he says they’re seeing roughly 1,000 new COVID patients per day across the nine counties they serve in Northern Indiana over the past ten days.

He says at this rate, roughly one-fifth of them will need to be hospitalized.

Not only are cases rising, but they’re also losing staff to the pandemic.

Towner said, “The bigger issue for us is the quarantine, where we’ve had staff exposure outside the hospital that we then have to put them out of work.”

He predicts it’s only going to get worse.

“We believe with the surge of new cases that came within the last two weeks that we have a crushing wave of hospital patients coming next week,” he said.

Given the tremendous pressure on our healthcare workers, St. Joseph Health’s Chief Nursing Officer Loretta Schmidt shared stories of horrible treatment toward some nurses out in the community.

“This nurse was wearing a mask. This nurse was being a responsible community member. This nurse was protecting others from the spread of this disease and this nurse was ridiculed. This nurse was made fun of. This nurse was cussed at. This nurse was belittled,” said St. Joseph Health Systems Chief Nursing Officer Loretta Schmidt.

Speakers echoed what they’ve been saying all summer, now with a little more urgency: mask-up, wash-hands, social distance, stay home if you’re sick.

Because now, they’re seeing the grim reality of what happens when those recommendations go unheard.

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