Covid update

The Indiana State Department of Health reports a spike in positive COVID-19 cases that began showing in the last weeks of July.

Early summer saw a majority of the state was in the lowest advisory level with several counties, including Jennings, at a 0% positivity rate.

The government mask mandate was lifted in April, with most businesses allowing their employees to work maskless starting the end of May, and the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine was made available to those ages 12 and older on May 13.

Before and during all of this, the positive cases throughout Indiana continually dropped, with not one county listed in the Red advisory level since February. With things headed in a positive direction, it’s likely people were hoping to have left the worst of the pandemic in the past.

“People are a little more lax,” Peggy Roe said of the public’s lowering of personal COVID safety measures, potentially because of the encouragingly low number of positive cases throughout the month of June. Roe is the office manager for the Jennings County Health Department.

But now, cases are reported to be rising again, though there is still hope this recent spike will be temporary.

There is also discussion nationwide of new variants of the virus that are more contagious.

According to the CDC, information about the characteristics of these variants is rapidly emerging. Viruses constantly change through mutation, and new variants of a virus are expected to occur. Sometimes new variants emerge and disappear. Other times, new variants persist. Multiple variants of the virus that causes COVID-19 have been documented in the United States and globally during this pandemic.

Currently there are four notable variants in the United States: B.1.1.7 (Alpha); B.1.351 (Beta); P.1 (Gamma); and B.1.617.2 (Delta).

Scientists are working to learn more about how easily they spread, whether they could cause more severe illness, and whether currently authorized vaccines will protect people against them, the CDC says. So far, studies suggest that the current authorized vaccines work on the circulating variants. Scientists will continue to study these and other variants.

Last week, Peggy Roe said COVID-19 cases are higher in the Jennings County area now than they were a year ago. According to records from the Plain Dealer & Sun from August 6, 2020, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the county was 213, deaths were at 12 with a county positivity rate of 6.3% and a state positivity rate of 7.3%. On Thursday, August 5, 2021, cases were at 123 with a county positivity rate of 12.8%. As of Wednesday, August 11, cases were at 313 with a county positivity rate of 18.67%, which is in the Red advisory level.

According to the state, most Jennings cases have occurred in non-vaccinated people. There have been eight “breakthrough” cases of vaccinated people contracting the virus, however, they’re reported to not be as severe. Roe also added that they’re seeing more people in the age range of 20-50 being affected rather than the elderly.

While the surge continues, the JC health department recommends wearing a mask, social distancing and getting vaccinated. Their clinic is located on the second floor of the government building in Vernon and is open on Thursdays from noon to 5:50 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome but they would prefer if you register, either by calling 812-352-3025 or going to myshot.gov.

The COVID testing site at the ETC building in North Vernon is open and you can register online. Hours are Monday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Tuesday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19 or the COVID-19 vaccines, contact your primary care physician.