Several northeast Indiana counties return to ‘orange status’ on latest COVID county metrics map


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Several northeast Indiana counties, including Allen, have returned to the “orange status” for community spread on the most recent county metrics map.

“Allen County’s return to the orange status is good news, but cases and positivity are rising again. That is concerning and reinforces the need for preventive measures such as masks and physical distancing, particularly as people plan for New Year’s gatherings,” said Matthew LeBlanc, a spokesperson for the Allen County Health Department.

On Wednesday, Indiana’s Department of Health (IDOH) updated the weekly metrics map, which details the level of community spread by county. The map is used as a reference point for local health departments to determine if action should be taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Allen County saw 455 positive cases and one death caused by COVID-19 on Wednesday.

The image on the left is the county metrics map from the week of December 20, 2021 and the image on the right is the county metrics map from the week of December 27, 2021.

Throughout the state, 27 counties are in the red status and 65 are in the orange status. Huntington County is among those in the orange , which is the second-highest category for community spread.

“But, there’s still a lot of people who are testing positive,” said Dr. Matthew Pflieger, the Huntington County Public Health Officer. “We still have seen really high numbers in northeast Indiana. Our positivity rates are high across the whole area, and our hospitalization rates are still high… The hospitals are quite busy.”

Pflieger added it’s “entirely possible” that counties who dropped to orange will go back to the red status the next time a map comes out because of testing backlogs caused by offices being closed for the holidays. He said for the same reason, it’s “a little tricky to answer” how accurate the numbers on this weeks map are.

Different variants surging through the state, along with people gathering for the holidays, are likely the factors contributing to Northeast Indiana seeing a high amount of case and hospitalization rates, according to Pflieger.

“There’s just a lot of people who have been doing close gatherings and that’s where this can spread really easily,” said Pflieger. “[The omicron variant] is going to be really contagious. A lot of people are going to get it and that doesn’t mean that the vaccines aren’t working right.”

He went on to say that while vaccines can prevent illness, their main purpose is to prevent hospitalizations are deaths. He said those who aren’t vaccinated are susceptible for getting severely ill.

“So we really want to emphasize this point, like you’re going to keep hearing about people who have been vaccinated and are testing positive. That’s okay,” said Pflieger. “The northeast Indiana district is one of the lowest vaccinated areas in the state. You can also see what the death rate looks like in our area and it’s much higher than than other death rates across the state. So, there is a correlation there.”

As far as the New Years holiday approaching, Pflieger recommends everyone get tested before gathering, and use the tests to help guide your decisions. He said he’s well-aware of the supply and demand issue with at home tests, but unfortunately, there’s nothing that can immediately be done about that.

“If you can’t get a test, and you’ve got symptoms, do you want to expose that risk to somebody else?” said Pflieger. “So, stay home if you’ve got symptoms, just stay home away from people. That’s what we were taught as a little kid and that’s what we should continue to do as adults.”

He also suggests wearing a mask and social distancing.

“It’s the right thing to do right now,” said Pflieger. “We’re still in this and we’re getting there. We are getting there. There is light at the end of the tunnel, I think. But, we still all have a role to play in getting us to the end goal.”

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