Weeks to come to determine county's COVID-19 status

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The number of new COVID-19 cases had been on the decline. But in recent weeks, those numbers across the country are starting to increase again.

Locally, there has been a very slow increase. But the numbers aren’t large, not like other communities in the United States that have seen major breakouts.

“We’re definitely seeing a trend on the slower incline,” said Shawn Werner, administrative director of the Dubois County Health Department. “This could be the start of another wave. Or it could just be cases here and there. We really don’t know wholly yet, because this is just starting to climb.”

The slight increase has caused Dubois County to be moved from the state’s blue level designation, which the state has determined is the lowest level of community spread in a county based on the number of weekly cases and its seven-day positivity rate, to the yellow designation, which indicates moderate spread.

“The next couple of weeks is probably going to tell, you know, what’s going to happen,” Werner said. “Hopefully, this may just be a little uptick from all the get-togethers over Fourth of July and all the festivals, fairs and stuff that’s been going on.”

Local health officials are remaining aware of the daily changes. “We’re all watching those numbers like a hawk,” said Dr. Ted Waflart, county health officer. “But at this point, it is a slow thing, and I don’t know that there’s a reason it will all of a sudden jump up real high.”

But there has been concern across the whole country that the numbers are increasing. Some of the more populated communities in America have seen big jumps in the number of new COVID cases, causing officials there to mandate or recommend mask wearing again. On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it recommends fully vaccinated people to wear masks indoors again in places with high COVID-19 transmission rates. Recently, the agency also recommended universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.

Whether any recommendations are issued locally depends on the state health department, which has not made any new recommendations following the CDC’s announcements.

And there is no guarantee that the numbers will continue to increase, Werner said. “But if this continues to stay on an upward climb rather than just one or two weeks of it,” he said, “then it would be a little bit more concerning.”

With the increases happening across the country, medical professionals have noted that the overwhelming majority of the new cases are people who are not vaccinated.

“Most cases and hospitalizations are mostly non-vaccinated people,” Waflart said. “Those who aren’t vaccinated ought to be concerned.

“The main message I’ve been seeing in all this tells me that people need to get vaccinated.”




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