During the coronavirus pandemic crisis, The La Porte County Herald-Argus has dropped the paywall for major breaking virus-related stories. If you appreciate local journalism, please help us continue to keep La Porte County informed by considering a subscription. Learn more here.La PORTE — Thirteen more people have died in Indiana from coronavirus-related illnesses, including the first in La Porte County, raising the state’s death toll to 78, health officials said Thursday.

Indiana’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, grew by 474, to 3,039, the Indiana State Department of Health said.

That figure includes 14 confirmed cases in La Porte County; 35 in Porter County (county officials report 42); 65 in St. Joseph County; 215 in Lake County; 11 in Jasper County; 2 in Starke County; and 4 in Marshall County, according to the ISDH.

Seventy-eight Hoosiers have died to date, including 6 in Lake County and 1 each in La Porte, St. Joseph and Jasper counties.

Berrien County, Michigan, on Thursday reported 38 confirmed cases and 1 death.

La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said the local fatality was a “man under 50 with multiple underlying health problems.”

The man was admitted to a local hospital with pneumonia and was later put on a ventilator but “continued to deteriorate,” Kora said.

He died Tuesday night.

Kora said Indiana’s peak of cases is expected to be in about two weeks, but stressed that there are things people can do now to “improve outcomes and flatten the curve.”

He said the good news is coming from the West Coast, states like Washington and California where they implemented early lockdowns and, “That is showing results.”

He implored county residents to stay home except for essential trips, wash their hands often, practice social distancing and possibly “wear a mask, scarf or bandanna when you go outside.”

Kora also stressed keeping yourself otherwise healthy.

“Eat well, get lots of rest, exercise, stop smoking – anything you can do to improve your physical health. There is no treatment or vaccine yet, but if everyone follows the guidelines and works to stay healthy, it will help flatten the curve.”

Marion County had 192 of the state’s 474 new coronavirus cases reported Thursday. Indianapolis and the seven counties surrounding it account for 45 percent of Indiana’s COVID-19 deaths and 62 percent of its confirmed cases.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Dr. Virginia Caine of the Marion County Public Health Department extended “stay-at-home” orders for the county through May 1.

Gov. Eric Holcomb urged Indiana residents to continue following his stay-at-home order and said anyone flouting it is putting themselves and others around them at risk.

“We are not going to be figuratively or literally whistling past the graveyard,” he said. “We are going to be taking the steps that need to be taken in the state of Indiana.”

The governor said he plans to update residents on the stay-at-home order, originally set to expire Monday at 11:59 p.m., on Friday.

One of the counties near Indianapolis, Boone, is preparing its 4-H Fairgrounds to be used as an overflow medical area for COVID-19 patients, WISH-TV reported. The area is designed for coronavirus patients who may not be well enough to go home but do not need intensive care.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said about 700 people with COVID-19 or suspected to have the disease are being treated in intensive care units at hospitals across the state.

And she discouraged people from using surgical and specialty masks for personal use. They are needed for health care workers and others who work directly with COVID-19 patients, she said.

“If there are masks individuals are making, I think that’s a fabulous thing if you want to wear them,” she said. “But right now we don’t have enough masks to mask 6.6 million Hoosiers.”

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