COVID-19 cases are increasing exponentially in Indiana and Allen County, prompting authorities to implement some new restrictions to curtail spread of the deadly virus, with 25 county deaths reported in less than a week.
Cases are doubling every seven days, said Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter at a news conference Nov. 17. He said this week Allen County will move “very deeply into red.”
Counties are designated red, the worst rating representing very high spread of the virus, if they exceed a per-capita new case rate of 200 cases per 100,000 residents in the past week and exceed 15% positivity in testing.
Red is considered the tipping point for uncontrolled spread. The state’s color-coded system is updated Wednesdays.
As Sutter put it, the county will be “so freaking red you should stay home.”
Deaths statewide are up to around 40 a day. The day of the news conference, nine more Allen County residents had died from COVID-19, following 16 in the previous week.
So in light of these new, alarming statistics, Sutter has issued an Allen County Public Health Order effective Nov. 22 and set to expire Dec. 12.
Bars and restaurants will be limited to 50% capacity indoors, and 100% capacity outdoors, but if they use tents, two sides must be open. They will have to close from midnight to 5 a.m.
Social gatherings will be limited to 100 people when the state is at level red, and 250 when the level is orange.
Gyms will be limited to 50% capacity.
Sutter discouraged multi-family in-person gatherings, suggesting “This is a great year for a Zoom Thanksgiving.”
Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry announced at the news conference that Citizens Square, 200 E. Berry St., home to several city departments, will be closed to the public Nov. 23-Jan. 19. Most employees will be working from home.
In addition to Citizens Square, the following city buildings will be closed: the Fort Wayne Parks and Recreation Department office and Parks and Recreation pavilions; community centers, and youth centers. The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory will remain open. Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control’s facility will operate under restricted access.
Steve McMichael, mayor of New Haven, praised Sutter for his efforts. McMichael had COVID-19 several weeks ago and is still recovering, fighting fatigue every day. He had a couple of particularly bad days while he was sick, including difficulty breathing. “I wish this upon nobody,” he said.