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Allen County Officials Emphasize Mask-Wearing As COVID-19 Numbers Spike

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As Indiana adjusts to the fourth stage of Governor Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track” plan to “reopen” the Hoosier State amid the COVID-19 coronavirus, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and local health officials are urging continued vigilance to keep the virus at bay.

Northeast Indiana has seen a gradual increase in coronavirus cases and deaths over the last several weeks, particularly in the four counties north of Allen.

Allen County Department of Health administrator Mindy Waldron says these numbers were kind of expected.

“We have more testing; testing has been opened up without some of the restrictions. And the fact that people are more out and about is probably going to lead to more cases; it’s about vigilance and how do we control that,” Waldron said.

Waldron also noted that it would be impossible to "eliminate" the disease, so it's their responsibility to mitigate the number of infections as much as possible.

While protests have taken place in downtown Fort Wayne over the last several weekends -- situations where social distancing and sanitation can be difficult -- local health officials align the increases to Memorial Day, and the gradual reopening of businesses around the state, and the country.

Parkview Physicians Group chief medical officer Dr. Jason Row says that while a critical mass has yet to be met, hospital visits have increased of late. He says the best things residents can do is to continue washing hands, socially distancing and -- perhaps most importantly -- wearing a mask.

“When I wear a mask, it’s not to say I’m afraid, or I’m not strong enough. When I wear a mask what it should tell you is that I care enough about you that I’m willing to put up with the discomfort and the social stigma of wearing a mask,” said Row.

LaGrange County announced Monday it would mandate its residents wear masks in public, to combat an increase in its virus numbers. Despite this, Henry says such a mandate would “not be in the best interests” of the city and residents for now.

The news conference can still be viewed in full on Fort Wayne's Facebook page.

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