By Erick Johnson
Four residents in Gary died of COVID-19 in a home instead of a hospital, according to a Crusader analysis of data requested from the Lake County Coroner’s Office under the Freedom of Information Act.
The data includes some details about nine Gary residents who died from the disease between March 30 and April 30.
It’s uncertain whether the addresses listed in the data were the actual homes where the victims lived. But there are some details in the data that provide some insight into their battle against the disease.
The addresses where the victims died were listed in the data, but the Crusader has withheld that information in this story out of respect for the victims and the occupants of those homes. The coroner’s data does not include the names of the victims nor any underlying medical conditions they may have had.
Of the COVID-19 victims who died at a home, three died in April and one on March 30. The youngest was a 34-year old Black male who died on April 21. The oldest COVID-19 victim was a 75-year old Black man who died April 16, about 14 days after he tested positive for the virus. The other two COVID-19 victims who died at a home were 57 and 59.
All of the COVID-19 victims who died at a home were Black males. Two of them were confirmed positive for the disease after their deaths.
The 57-year old Black male who died March 30 tested for the virus on March 31. The results came back positive on April 20, about 21 days after he died. The youngest victim to die at home, a 34-year old Black male, died April 21. He was tested April 19, two days before he died, but the results came back positive two days later.
The other two COVID-19 victims who died at a home tested positive before they passed, but they also didn’t spend their final moments on earth in the hospital. Why?
Dr. Chandana Vavilala, Lake County Health Officer, said “It’s possible that they couldn’t get to the hospital in time for treatment.”
The other five COVID-19 victims in the coroner’s data died at Methodist Northlake Hospital in Gary. Four died in the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.
As of May 5, about 15 residents in Gary have died from COVID-19, according to Mayor Jerome Prince’s daily update. He said the number of infected residents is now at 455.
“Gary has seen our second consecutive day of double-digit increases in new COVID-19 positive cases,” Prince said. “I’m very concerned by these increases. Clearly, our fight against the spread of the COVID-19 virus is not over. In just two days, we have reported more than 25 new cases.
“We must remain vigilant. We must continue to practice good social distancing. We must continue to keep our travels to work and essential business only.
Governor Eric Holcomb last week announced his five-stage plan to have Indiana’s economy fully reopened by the July 4 holiday.
Holcomb also stressed that each municipality can make its own plans more restrictive than state plans, based on what is in the best interests of the communities.
On May 5, Prince called on Gary’s churches to help keep the city’s residents safe.
“I am calling for all houses of worship to continue to use on-line, virtual and drive-in services for one more week,” he said.
“Please do not hold in-person services until the weekend of May 15th.
“Funeral homes and houses of worship should not open funeral services to the public until after May 15th.
They should continue to provide on-line ceremonies and limit attendees in their buildings to no more than 10 people until May 15th. Other ceremonies, such as weddings and baptisms, also should wait until after May 15th or limit their gatherings to no more than 10 people.”