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Gary officials infected with coronavirus urge residents to get vaccinated as cases surge
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Gary officials infected with coronavirus urge residents to get vaccinated as cases surge

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GARY — Days after being diagnosed with coronavirus, the Gary mayor and deputy mayor addressed the community in a virtual meeting, stressing the importance of vaccinations and citing an upswing in cases. 

Both officials are experiencing "very mild symptoms" as they quarantine at home and no other city or mayoral staff have tested positive. 

The Gary Health Commissioner Dr. Roland Walker also joined the Thursday meeting, where he updated residents on increases in COVID-19 cases and deaths. 

Mayor Jerome Prince and Deputy Mayor Trent McCain, who are both fully vaccinated, said they have elderly family and children to protect. 

McCain, who was diagnosed Wednesday, said all three of his children are vaccinated and his 8-year-old child with asthma has tested positive. 

"I want to deliver a message to parents that we have consulted with our pediatrician, we have studied and followed the science," McCain said. "And we think it is incumbent that parents vaccinate their children because we have seen cases involving the pediatric population rising and we know that they are in an in-person school so I suggest that all parents talk to their pediatric providers as well and once you reach that comfort level please consider getting your children vaccinated."

This episode of the "Riding Shotgun with NWI Cops" series takes viewers behind the armored vehicles and shields to see what it's like to be a part of the Lake County Sheriff's SWAT team.

Prince, who was diagnosed Sunday after feeling symptoms, stated administrators are keeping a close eye on case data and deaths and "will not hesitate" in working with city officials for any actions that could reduce the spread. 

Walker and city administration are closely monitoring employees.

"COVID infections have increased not only in our city but in the county of Lake, the state of Indiana and in the nation," Walker said. 

He stated Lake County is currently in the orange designation for coronavirus cases. Gary has had 8,487 cases total and 412 new cases in the month of November alone, Walker said. In the past 24 hours as of Thursday afternoon, there were 39 additional recorded coronavirus cases. 

A total of 224 Gary residents have died since the pandemic's start, with two additional deaths recorded in the last 24 hours. 

The seven day moving average is currently 19 new cases per day.

"Right now we are in the holiday season, the increases we are seeing in these numbers are related to two things: colder weather and we are now seeing the Halloween increase," Walker said. "In the next week or so we will start seeing an increase from Thanksgiving with the numbers going up and the same thing will happen with Christmas, so we encourage you to wear masks, social distance and get vaccinated so we can get through this holiday season safely."

Indiana COVID-19 cases surging even before Omicron variant arrives

Walker outlined the various placed in Gary where individuals can be tested and vaccinated, including the Gary Health Department, Holy Angels Cathedral gymnasium, Methodist Hospitals Northlake campus and Edgewater Health. 

The omicron variation also presents some challenges to public health. Walker said vaccinated people can catch the virus as the vaccine is 95% effective. 

"The biggest question is how effective is the vaccination for this new variant, the jury is still out on that, but what we do know for certain is the best way to protect yourself is to become vaccinated," Walker said. "The easiest way to explain that is when you have a large group of people that are unvaccinated, the virus gets to mutate over and over again and we do not want that to get to a new mutation that will evade the vaccine."

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Night Crime/Breaking News Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts and investigative news. She is a graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology. 219-933-4194, anna.ortiz@nwi.com

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