With Allen County ‘red’ again, are restrictions coming?

Local News

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — Allen County is officially back in the red for COVID-19 community spread.

Dr. Matthew Sutter, Allen County’s Health Commissioner, said Wednesday he knew this was coming because the county’s positivity rate passed 15 percent this past week. However, he didn’t expect another surge like this.

During the holidays, Sutter said he thought there would be a decrease and the county would get a little relief. Instead, the cases spiked.

“It’s really disturbing that we’re back in this stage again,” said Dr. Sutter. “We have had two previous surges last year in 2020. Another one earlier this fall and late this summer which was when the Delta variant came in, and this one is exceeding that.”

Dr. Sutter said in an ideal world, we would see high rates of vaccination, so people are not likely to be hospitalized or die from the disease if infected – and if there is an outbreak, people will temporarily wear masks and social distance until cases goes back down. However, since that’s not happening, he said there is “a lot of transmission going on.”

Not only is Allen County in red, nearly all of northern Indiana is in the same stage. He said it’s time for people to take action by getting vaccinated.

“Majority of our cases are unvaccinated and there is a large percentage of our population unvaccinated,” Dr. Sutter said. “The more concerning part is the fact that the hospitals are reporting that they are very strained by this. They told me last week they were gravely concerned, and this week is worse than last week.”

Allen County isn’t currently under a mask mandate, a majority of businesses are back to full capacity, and as of Dec. 2, 2021, only 39.78% of the county’s population is vaccinated. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said on many occasions he will not implement any state restrictions this time around, leaving that up to individual counties.

So will Allen County implement their own restrictions?

“So certainly I’ve had some considerations for this,” said Dr. Sutter. “In fact, I spend a lot of time at 3 o’clock in the morning thinking about this. The issue is most of the transmission that we’re seeing are in areas that don’t lend themselves to restrictions. So we see it in households, small gatherings, we’ve seen a lot of people with transmission in Thanksgiving gatherings. All of these are where people are making personal choices.

“When people from different households, especially unvaccinated are gathering together, close together without masks, we expect to see transmission.”

WANE 15 reached out to the City of Fort Wayne to learn whether any restrictions could be coming. We received this statement:

The mask requirement at all city-owned facilities continues.

We also work with Allen Co. Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter and his team and take direction and recommendations from the Health Commissioner/Department of Health as it relates to restrictions. Those types of decisions come from the Health Commissioner.

We strongly encourage people to get vaccinated.

John Perlich, Spokesman, City of Fort Wayne

The Allen County Board of Commissioners is only able to apply restrictions to buildings it operates or owns. A spokesperson for the board told WANE 15 that the commissioners have no plans to implement masks in its buildings.

Dr. Sutter added that we will always have to live with COVID-19. It’s hard to tell what it will look like over the next few years. He referenced the 2018-2019 flu pandemic and said that it took several years of continued outbreaks. He emphasized that the vaccine is safe and effective.

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