DECATUR COUNTY, Ind. — More than 50 vehicles had rolled through a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site at the Decatur County Fairgrounds by noon Monday, according to workers with the Indiana State Department of Health.
The state announced over the weekend four drive-thru clinics would be conducting coronavirus testing from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m, Monday through Wednesday this week.
The locations of the drive-through clinics are:
- Timothy Church, 1600 W 25th Ave, Gary, IN 46404
- Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne – Coliseum Campus, 3800 N. Anthony Blvd, Fort Wayne, IN 46805
- Decatur County Fairgrounds, 545 S. Co. Rd. 200 W, Greensburg, IN 47240
- Ivy Tech Community College Sellersburg, 8204 Hwy 311, Sellersburg, IN 47172
Leslie Thackery, Funeral Director at Gilliland-Howe Funeral Home in Greensburg decided to get tested because the nature of her job makes it likely she has been exposed to COVID-19. Lately, she said, she’s been experiencing congestion, headaches and a mild cough.
“Could be very much just seasonal allergies, but I want to make sure I’m protecting my families if I am just a carrier,” Thackery said. “We deal with a lot of diseases in our industry and you never talk about them. But this one is just an unknown, so you have to kind of go overboard.”
For Decatur County Health Officer, Dr. Arthur Alunday, the testing at the county fairgrounds is a welcome sight.
“We’ve had our share of cases and very sick people here,” Alunday said. “We are, I think, the highest rate of positive cases per capita in the state. One of them.”
The latest data from the state health department shows Decatur County has had 18 COVID-19 deaths, while neighboring Shelby, Rush, Franklin, Ripley and Jennings counties have death totals in the single digits.
The same collected data shows more than 56% of those tested in Decatur County have tested positive for the virus. By comparison, the rate of positive tests in Marion County is around 21-percent.
Dr. Alunday says the high rate of positive cases can be attributed to targeted testing, where only the most like coronavirus patients are getting tested.
“We’re following CDC and Department of Health guidelines,” Alunday said. “Why it’s high out here, we don’t know yet.”
Dr. Alunday also said the high rate of positive cases and targeted testing is causing concern about how many unknown COVID-19 cases could be in the community.
“Yes, that could be a problem with those folks who are asymptomatic, they could be carriers.”
Decatur County Health officials did not point to any single outbreak that could be responsible for elevating fatality numbers, but they did confirm there have been deaths at Morning Breeze Retirement Community in Greensburg.
A representative for Exceptional Living Centers, which owns Morning Breeze, issued a statement but declined to release any specific information:
“Morning Breeze is unfortunately one of many healthcare centers around the world that has been affected by COVID-19,” the statement said. “This only deepens our commitment to doing everything we can to protect the well-being of our patients and staff. We know we will get through this together and will emerge from it a stronger community.”
The Decatur County Health Department also confirmed some positive COVID-19 cases have been traced back to a sectional basketball game at North Decatur High School in early march. An official with the department does not believe any deaths resulted from those cases.