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Allen County Health Commissioner Urges Integrity In Coronavirus Fight.

Rebecca Green
Northeast Indiana Public Radio/WBOI

Government and health officials in Northeast Indiana addressed the community Friday afternoon over the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

During the gathering, recommendations were made promoting social distancing measures while encouraging employers and businesses to evaluate their company guidelines to review best practices for both employees and constituents during an outbreak such as this.

Allen County health commissioner Dr. Deb McMahan has led the charge on the community’s coronavirus response thus far, organizing meetings with stakeholders and reporting the latest to the public on a daily basis.

McMahan says Allen County cannot prevent COVID-19 from spreading, so now the goal is to “stagger” the cases to make sure it doesn’t overwhelm the local healthcare system.

“If we can have waves of transmission, we can decrease the number of people who are sick enough that they have to go to the healthcare system, they don’t have to go to the doctor’s office, they have to go to the ER,” she said.

That’s where a practice like social distancing can come in handy. She says this involves limiting person-to-person contact for “the next few weeks at least, maybe a month,” and suggested groups like book or knitting clubs meet over the phone or through Skype.

“We are in a serious pandemic. It doesn’t mean we want to be panicked or frightened, but we need to do what we need to do," McMahan said. "Understand that things may look differently… and that’s just the way it is. And we have to do all this to get through this.”

McMahan continues to emphasize a level-headed, evidence-based to minimize the risk of spreading the virus around, partly as a means of easing the pressure on local healthcare services. She also advised residents to be conscious of their symptoms and how they relate to COVID-19.

“That doesn’t mean I go to the ER with a sore throat; we need to keep the ERs open for people who are sick -- chest pains, shortness of breath, heart attacks, trauma, motor vehicle accidents, those kinds of things, you need to call your family doctor.”

She added that while Allen County has no reported cases of COVID-19 thus far, that’s partially due to the scarcity testing kits available.

McMahan concluded by stating the goal is to keep healthcare open while maintaining “critical infrastructure” and that individuals need to do their part to minimize spread -- while you might be okay, you don’t want to spread the virus to someone who may not.

She also wants the community to “behave with integrity” during this process.

“The last thing I want you to say to people, when someone has provided a service to you during this pandemic? Thanks for showing up. Thank you for showing up,” McMahan said.

Zach joined 89.1 WBOI as a reporter and local host for All Things Considered. He currently hosts Morning Edition.
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