Mayor Henry on rise in COVID-19 cases: ‘This is not a hoax’


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry got emotional Wednesday when talking about the rising number of COVID-19 cases along with an increase in the positivity rate during a news conference with health officials and others.

At one point during the news conference, Henry said the pandemic is “not a hoax,” and he urged residents to follow advice from medical professionals regarding social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing. He also referenced the fact that people are dying from the virus. Henry also urged residents to “be a good American” and help slow the spread of the virus.

Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter called the rising numbers “disturbing” and said the increase in cases appears to have begun around Labor Day when people gathered in large groups.

Healthcare leaders with the three major healthcare providers gave updates on the medical response.

Parkview Health: While Parkview Health currently has adequate hospital capacity across the region, we are very concerned with the upward trend we are seeing in new cases and hospitalizations. Our teams are closely monitoring capacity and resources in all of our facilities to best care for patients with COVID-19 and other acute care needs. We encourage everyone to do their part in helping to protect the health of our community: Wear a mask, wash your hands often, avoid social gatherings and get your flu shot. These behaviors will help reduce the overall spread of respiratory illnesses in our communities and subsequently reduce pressure on our community’s healthcare systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lutheran Health Network: We have seen a significant uptick in the number of those who test positive for COVID-19 across the region. We carefully monitor the needs to support and protect the patients in our care and to be prepared for any COVID-19 changes in our community. Safety remains our top priority and we continue to take extraordinary steps to maintain a safe environment for all. We would like to emphasize to the community the importance of remaining vigilant in the fight against COVID-19. With more social gatherings and flu season, individuals should receive the flu vaccine (per his/her provider’s direction), wear a mask that covers both the mouth and nose while in public, practice social distancing of at least six feet and practice hand hygiene. We know that doing these things increases safety for all and makes a significant impact. It’s also important for members of our community to access the care they need. At Lutheran Health Network, we encourage our patients to always seek immediate emergency care for serious conditions such as heart attack or stroke and to stay current with preventive screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies. We also encourage community members to continue to receive care, especially for those with chronic health conditions – this can be done via a telehealth visit or in the provider’s office. COVID-19 will be part of our environment for the foreseeable future, so we need to function as COVID-19 safe as opposed to COVID-19 free.  

IU Health-Fort Wayne: IU Health’s statewide data has shown an increase in testing and positive coronavirus results with an anticipation of further increases over the next 1-2 months as we enter the winter months. We have challenges that we face in the outpatient primary care setting regarding the diagnosis of COVID-19 cases and the increased anxiety that our community has experienced regarding this unprecedented season. We have strategies and modifications that we at IU Health are implementing in both hospitals and outpatient clinics locally and statewide to keep our employees, patients, and communities safe before, during, and throughout this pandemic.

“We are very concerned by the ongoing increase in Allen County’s COVID-19 cases,” said Dr. Sutter. “We still need the community to take this virus seriously and use the precautions we know work to slow its spread: stay home when you are sick; avoid large gatherings; wear a mask; and keep at least six feet apart from people outside your household.”

“It’s imperative that residents follow protocols to help slow the spread of this powerful virus,” said Mayor Henry. “The more we do now can help save lives and put us in better position to resume some resemblance of normalcy moving forward. As a community we must work together to help ensure we’re as safe as possible and allow our healthcare providers to be able to maintain the levels of care and available resources to help those in need of medical assistance.”

“If our local cases continue to increase unabated, we are increasing the risks to our health from this deadly virus. This is especially true for our high-risk individuals. The doctors, nurses and administrators at our community hospitals are all doing an excellent job of staying on top of things. And now it’s the citizens’ time to really step up and not let your guard down. Wash your hands, sanitize frequently, stay home when you’re sick, wear a mask, get tested and stay six feet apart,” said the Allen County Board of Commissioners.

The public is encouraged to visit where a community resource page is updated regularly with information about COVID-19.

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