The COVID-19 situation is improving somewhat in Jackson County, but local health officials don’t want people to see it as a reason to stop taking measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
Dr. Eric Fish, president and chief executive officer of Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, reported the number of COVID patients at the hospital is looking better.
“We have seen a small decrease compared to last week,” Fish said during the hospital’s weekly COVID update Tuesday. “We’ve had more discharges than admissions which has been good.”
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As far as the county goes, Dr. Christopher Bunce, public health officer with the Jackson County Health Department, said the numbers are trending down.
The county’s 7-day positivity rate stands at 12.8%, which is a .9% decrease from Monday and down from 18.7% last week, Bunce said.
“We have 737 cases per 100,000 per week, which is down from 1,100 last week, so that is also an improvement,” he added.
Bunce said the county now has a COVID rating of 2.5 which puts it in the orange level for moderate spread of the virus in the community.
Jackson County will remain categorized as red, however, because it must be out of red for a minimum of two weeks before the state officially will move it to orange.
To be classified as an orange-level threat for COVID-19 infection, a county’s positivity rate must be between 10 and 14.9%.
Positivity rate is determined by a seven-day moving average with a six-day lag. It’s calculated by dividing the total number of positive tests by the total number of tests administered. The reason for the lag is to give time to receive comprehensive results.
The current positivity rate for Jackson County is for Dec. 2-8.
“So even though we have an orange score, we have a red rating,” he said. “And that’s probably a good thing, because we need to continue all of the measures that we have taken to get this improvement and take some pressure off of the hospital and keep the community healthier.”
He advised the public to stay tuned for future announcements about the COVID-19 vaccine, which is starting to be administered to health care workers this week.
“We continue to work on plans for vaccinating the general community, but that’s not going to happen for a little while at least,” he said.
Health care workers in Bartholomew, Jackson, Jennings and Decatur counties will begin receiving vaccinations on Friday, Fish said.
“Our staff are actively signing up,” he added.
During a call with state health officials this week, Fish said he learned Indiana should continue to receive shipments of the vaccine and will more than likely exceed the number of vaccinations needed for hospital and health care workers.
“Which is a good sign that we’ll be able to continue to spread that out throughout the state,” he said.
Clark County Hospital administered the vaccine to 100 employees Monday with no reported negative side effects or issues, Fish added.
First responders including police, fire and ambulance workers also should have access to the vaccine soon, Fish said. But it’s not known when the vaccine will be available for school employees.
Fish said the hospital will be sharing information to debunk what he calls social media myths about the vaccine so it is more widely adopted.
“You’re not going to get COVID from this vaccine,” he said.
Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses that are either 21 or 28 days apart. The side effects reported from the vaccine so far have been mild to moderate, Bunce said, except for some allergic reactions that occurred in people in England.
“The side effects are going to be a little bit more prominent after the second dose, which is good,” Bunce said. Those side effects could include muscle aches, a headache and a low-grade fever in a very low percentage of people, he added.
“It’s actually less side effect prone than some of our more prominent vaccines like the shingles vaccine or the HPV vaccine,” he said.
The state announced Tuesday that a total of 3,277 Jackson County residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since March, an increase of 45 from Monday’s total.
No new deaths attributed to COVID-19 were reported in Jackson County on Tuesday, meaning the death toll remains at 41.
There have been 30,056 tests administered overall in Jackson County since March 18, an increase of 469 from Monday’s total.
The latest results were as of 11:59 p.m. Monday. The Indiana State Department of Health’s coronavirus dashboard is updated at noon daily.
On Tuesday, 4,347 additional Hoosiers across the state were diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at the ISDH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories.
This brings the total number of Hoosiers known to have had the novel coronavirus to 434,642 following corrections to the previous day’s total.
Indiana’s total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 is 6,657 with 129 new deaths being reported Tuesday, one of the highest single day death tolls in the state from the virus so far.
For the state, a total of 5,000,278 tests have been administered, an increase of 39,201 from Monday’s total.