Michiana preparing for late-April peak of COVID-19

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. (WNDU) - The St. Joseph County Health Department says it expects a peak of COVID-19 infections in Michiana in approximately three weeks.

Deputy health officer Dr. Mark Fox says a lot of patients who tested positive for the virus early on were mostly under the age of 50 and did not require hospitalization.

"So many of early faces were younger than age 50 and hadn't required hospitalization. So our hospital demands have not been great to this point. That's been to our advantage but that's what we are planning for in the next several weeks," Fox told 16 News Now Monday.

Fox says now that more testing has become available, he expects an influx of patients with COVID-19 moving forward.

Fox also pointed out hospitals in Michiana serve patients from well beyond the borders of St. Joseph County, which is why he would not be surprised to see more severe cases of COVID-19 down the line.

A surge of patients would also mean more usage of PPE, beds, and ventilators, which seems like every health care provider across the country needs more of.

"We fully expect to see increase demand in the hospital, increase demand on PPE and hospital beds and all of that," Fox says.

Fox says the St. Joseph County Department of Health has put in a request for more PPE and hopes to be able to distribute it to local health care facilities as soon as it becomes available.

Dr. Dale Patterson, who is the vice president of medical affairs at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, says the hospital has seen a slight increase in COVID-19 patients recently.

It is that reason why Patterson says having the proper medical equipment is significant moving forward.

"We need to keep doing our job to make sure we keep getting as much equipment in place as possible to make sure that we have all the rooms that we don't normally use ready for patients and ready to go," Patterson says.

Patterson also explains Beacon Health is trying to find ways to free up for more ICU beds and add additional staff, if needed, to compliment any increase of patients.

"We don't know if it's going to be seven days from now that we are going to start seeing more patients or 14 days or even shorter than that. It could be tomorrow. It's really unknown by we really want to work to be as prepared as possible in whatever time that we have left," Patterson says.