The number of active COVID-19 cases reached an all-time high this week as more than 30 patients sought treatment for the virus.
Knox County Health Officer Dr. Alan Stewart said with four new confirmed cases reported Thursday and another two on Friday, the total number climbed to 125.
Of those, 33 are considered to be active — the highest number of active cases since the first instance of COVID-19 was reported here in late March.
And after what seemed like a brief reprieve in the severity of symptoms associated with the coronavirus, people are sicker, he said.
There are now four COVID-19 patients being treated in the hospital; two of them, he added, are in intensive care.
“We’re seeing a lot of inter-family spread, some community spread,” Stewart said. “And a lot of it is still travel-related.”
With the number of local cases continuing to rise, Stewart is worried about the future.
As youngsters head back to the classroom over the next two weeks — the Vincennes Community School Corp. resumes next week, South Knox and North Knox the week after that — Stewart is fearful that a further spike in cases is possible, if not probable.
“That’s what’s so very disturbing to me,” he said, “We’ll increase our risk, both as students go back to the classroom and as we engage in inter-scholastic sports.”
The Indiana High School Athletic Association has implemented a three-phased pathway for the return of education-based athletics, one that coincides with the previously scheduled first practice date for girls golf on July 31 and practice for all other fall sports beginning Monday.
Stewart said in recent days he has met with area school officials to discuss ways they can try to keep students and teachers — and by extension, their families — safe.
Per Gov. Eric Holcomb’s mask mandate, all students will be required to wear face coverings when social distancing isn’t possible.
But overall, Stewart said he’s disappointed in what he considers to be a disregard for the governor’s mandate.
He’s especially worried, he said, about a “major business in town not getting the job done.”
“This is all risky,” he said. “Our numbers are going up. So you’ve got to be careful.”
Stewart encouraged people to wear masks when out in public and to practice good hand hygiene.
“Support our governor,” he said of the mask mandate. “He’s trying to do the right thing, and many people are just not getting behind him.
“It’s simple,” he said. “Wear a mask and wash your hands. If everyone does that, we’ll be able to put this all behind us.”
Statewide, Indiana saw 912 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday and another 19 deaths.
The 7-day infection rate stands at 7%.
The total number of confirmed cases in Indiana is 66,154; of those, there have been 2,765 deaths.
The overall infection rate stands at 8.9%.
Gibson County has had 194 confirmed cases and three deaths, while Daviess County has reported 235 cases and 19 deaths.
To the north, Sullivan county has had just 69 cases but one death.