Listen Live

DECATUR COUNTY, Ind.–A high school basketball game and a church-organized walk may have caused the coronavirus to spread rapidly in Decatur County. Despite that, they are still trying to pinpoint the exact source of the outbreak.

“We did have two social events that occurred early in this and we do know [there was] some spread within,” Sean Durbin, Decatur County’s public health preparedness coordinator, said to WISH-TV. “Is that where it started? No.”

Decatur County has reported about 10.5 coronavirus-related deaths per 10,000 people. That’s more than twice the death rate in any other Indiana county. They have also reported 75.3 confirmed positive coronavirus cases, second only to Cass County.

“We don’t have any evidence to suggest that it’s any one particular place,” Durbin said. “This is going to take a lot of forensic investigation to try and find out where this started.”

Some people who live in the county suggested a Honda Manufacturing plant in Greensburg contributed to Decatur County’s high number of coronavirus infections. Durbin said it did not appear to be the source. That plant suspended operations March 23 and one Honda contractor tested positive.

Durbin also refuted a theory that truck drivers traveling between Indianapolis and Cincinnati along I-74 spread the virus. He said there was no evidence linking cases to either of the county’s two truck stops.

Decatur County has an older population, which may have also been a contributing factor, says Dr. Wayne Perry, chief of staff at Decatur County Memorial Hospital. Perry cautioned against reading too much into case counts because increasing testing availability will result in more confirmed cases.

“When we do a test based on those guidelines, it’s very likely to come back positive because we’re screening the right people,” Perry said. “Those parameters boosted our early numbers. But as this all shakes out, I think we’re going to find that, with additional testing in other areas, [infection] rates are quite similar.”

The U.S. Census Bureau says 16.7% of Decatur County residents are 65 years and older.

“We have got to continue to treat this as if everybody that’s next to you has it,” said Durbin. Durbin is physically distancing from his family and has yet to meet his grandson because of the coronavirus.

Story by Julia Deng