After a large jump nearly a week ago, the addition of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 slowed down in Miami County by the end of this week.

As of a noon report from the Indiana State Department of Health on Friday, there were 107 confirmed cases of the disease in the county. No deaths had been reported.

The previous Friday that case count sat at 38, but jumped over the weekend to 93 in Monday’s report.

Miami County Health Officer Dr. Christi Redmon attributed that to an outbreak at the Tyson meat packing plant in nearby Logansport.

Last week, the Associated Press reported that 146 employees had tested positive at the plant.

The tests prompted a closure of the facility, and the AP reported on Monday that confirmed cases in Cass County shot up by about 700 over the weekend, bringing the total there to 1,025.

As of Friday, that total sat at 1,214.

As the numbers in Miami County climbed beyond 93 during the week, local officials said they couldn’t ignore such numbers in a neighboring county and some signalled that, as they awaited Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Friday address about what a measured reopening of the economy might look like, they may have to make adjustments to their own plans.

Peru Mayor Miles Hewitt, said earlier in the week that no matter what Holcomb decided, City Hall would likely stay closed at least a week beyond when he decided it was time to bring city employees – who have been working from home – back to their offices.

That, Hewitt explained, would give them time to adjust to any changes to the ways business will need to be conducted in the coming weeks and months.

County Commissioner Larry West said plans to open up the courthouse to the public by Tuesday would likely look slightly different than initially imagined as well.

Commissioners meet Monday to discuss those plans, but West said they are expected to discuss ways to limit the number people allowed in at one time who need to do business at county offices.

In a letter posted to the Miami County courthouse page on Wednesday, Redmon said that “the economy must re-open” and provided guidance for how she thinks that can be done safely once the decision is made to do so.

“The neighboring outbreak with Tyson has been extremely large,” she wrote. “I think that businesses can be proactive to protect their vulnerable customers. The signs of ‘no shoes, no shirts, no service’ that have always been used really can protect us from bare feet and spread of parasites (pinworms!), for example. So there is a public health precedence for guidelines in the community to provide protection as they go into a business. Asking patrons to wear a mask may offer the vulnerable a layer of desired protection, if it is posted at the door.”

Such signs, she suggested, should be posted in multiple languages and residents should, once businesses start to reopen, should continue with all the precautions already in place including following “social distancing guidelines, frequent disinfecting of non-porous surfaces, frequent hand washing, (and) not going to work if any onset of symptoms.”

“I am hopeful that more testing will allow more knowledge of prevalence, but the economy must re-open,” she wrote. “Please consider protection of the vulnerable as an extremely important part of your plans.”
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