Gary Struggles to Stay Ahead of the Covid-19 Curve
Updated: Aug 1, 2020
The Daily 219
Dr. Roland Walker, Gary’s Health Department Commissioner and pediatrician, has had his own personal experience with COVID-19 since the pandemic began. Both his parents were diagnosed with Covid-19 and hospitalized. His father had a stroke after his release. His mother, as of this writing was still hospitalized.
Walker was featured in the Washington Post and WTTW TV Chicago about his efforts and issues in Gary. Walker experienced difficulty acquiring PPE, testing kits and mobile testing sites from the state. He revealed in April that the African American community was being hit the hardest by the coronavirus even though they were only 10 percent of the state’s population. On a telephone interview July 10, Walker said since then Gary is still faced with a lack of PPE. Chicago entrepreneur Willie Wilson donated 50,000 masks to Gary’s housing authority’s senior citizen homes. Gary continues to distribute masks at City Hall events to the public and to nursing homes. Walker said testing has changed as the state is helping to set up sites in Gary. They have not been established yet, “but the lines of communication are now open.” On the same day, Gary had its monthly COVID-19 update, the last one being on June 19. Mayor Jerome Prince said that the numbers are still in single digits. Veronica Collins, Executive Director of Gary’s Health Department, stepped in for Walker to inform the public on numbers. Collins said there were six new cases, totaling the city to 837. Collins also mentioned that there were testing sites available at two locations available three days a week. One at Gary Methodist Hospital, for symptomatic residents and . the other at South Lake Methodist Hospital for appointment through the emergency room. Mayor Jerome Prince said on a press release statement on July 19 that he was “ordering all Gary residents to wear face coverings in public, business establishments, and public buildings.
Walker said that his health department staff “has done fairly well in terms of control.” It is only the beginning, “The current spike is not over...As a nation as a whole, we’re going to see increases again.” Especially, in the fall when schools reopen. Until then he said his health department will watch for trends over a two-week period, which is the recommendations from the World Health Organization.
“If the trends start going in the double digits for an extended period of time, I’ll ask the mayor for more restrictions. I can't really say what those restrictions are because it's really according to circumstance.”
“I am glad Lake County moved slower than the state in reopening phases...I wish that we could move even slower and educate people and take more precautions.”
Since this report, Gary has closed Marquette Park Beach until the middle of August. Governor Eric Holcomb had extended further opening of the State until August 27.