FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020 and cases began spreading rapidly across the United States in March of that year.

The entire country essentially shut down and people were forced to stay home in order to contain the virus and prevent any more spreading of it.

On March 19, 2020, the first positive COVID-19 cases was reported in Allen County. The county experienced its first death from COVID-19 on March 22, according to the Allen County Department of Health.

Chart representing the total number of people based on age who have tested positive for COVID-19. Credit: Allen County Department of Health

The county’s local hospitals began seeing covid patients being hospitalized in early March 2020 as more people were testing positive.

Parkview Regional Medical Center saw its first covid patient arrive on March 14. The Lutheran Health Network began seeing covid patients arrive around the same time.

The number of positive covid cases in Allen County started out relatively slow in the first few months of the pandemic, but then experienced a surge in the fall of 2020. The county experienced its largest surge in January 2022 where it saw some days with over 1,000 new cases.

Three years have gone by since the first case hit the county, and since then, the number of positive cases has slowed down. According to the county health department, as of March 20, 2023, Allen County has had a total of 125,450 covid cases and 1,253 people have died from COVID-19.

This chart presents the total number of people by age who have died from COVID-19 in the county. Credit: Allen County Department of Health

The state COVID-19 dashboard shows that the county has seen 7,774 people hospitalized for covid.

Matt LeBlanc, communications director for the Allen County Department of Health, said that cases and deaths are down significantly from where they were last year.

“That’s extremely encouraging, especially knowing there are vaccines, tests and treatments available,” LeBlanc said.

Testing was very prevalent during the height of the pandemic in 2020. In October of that year, the county health department began operating several covid testing sites as cases the area began seeing its first surge in cases.

He said the last site the county operated, which was on Falls Drive, was operating until May 2022 when they decided to close it. The county currently has more than two dozen COVID-19 testing sites that are located at local pharmacies and doctor’s offices.

Credit: Allen County Department of Health

Another issue that has come out of the pandemic is patients who have had COVID-19 who are dealing with a collection of symptoms over a long period of time, also known as long-COVID. Jessica Foor, a spokesperson for Parkview Health, said patients dealing with long-COVID are treated as outpatients and typically are not admitted to a hospital.

She said in an email that Parkview has a Post-COVID clinic, which is led by Parkview Physicians Group – Neurology, which has cared for more than 1,000 patients since opening in March 2021.

“The outpatient clinic serves patients 18 and older who are experiencing new or worsening symptoms post-COVID-19 infection, such as brain fog, muscle weakness, fatigue or loss of taste and smell,” she added. “These symptoms may linger for weeks or even months and have the potential to significantly impact a person’s quality of life.”

Credit: Allen County Department of Health

The clinic’s approach to caring for these patients is a multidisciplinary one by offering resources like neurology, occupational therapy, physical therapy and pharmacy services to help patients be able to return to as many pre-COVID functions as possible.

“This clinic is the first of its kind in the state,” she said.

Lutheran Health Network has also been caring for patients dealing with long-COVID.

“Our respiratory therapists, pulmonologists and other healthcare providers continue to treat people in our community with the virus and its lingering effects,” said Megan Hubartt, director of communications for Lutheran Health Network.

Allen County currently has 32 positive covid cases as of March 20. 27 people are currently hospitalized for the virus in the county.