While Jackson County COVID-19 numbers are looking positive in comparison to peak numbers within the past month, the county’s top health official reiterated numbers can easily spike up after the holidays.
“It all depends on what people do at home and how they manage their holidays, their gatherings. You have 26 people at your house for Christmas, it’s going to be a problem,” Dr. Christopher Bunce said during Schneck Medical Center’s community update Tuesday.
The infectious disease specialist also is the public health officer for the Jackson County Health Department.
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Currently, the COVID-19 positivity rate for Jackson County is at 10.8%, a 0.6% decrease from Monday’s percentage.
While Jackson County is classified as an orange-level threat on the Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, Bunce maintains the county is still in the red.
“We will still be in a red advisory level even though on the map, it’s going to be orange,” he said. “That has to do with the high numbers we’re still having per 100,000 per week.”
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 would be for Dec. 9 to 15.
Dr. Eric Fish, president and chief executive officer of Schneck, reported 30.3% of intensive care unit beds in the state are in use by those with COVID-19.
Schneck is seeing a decline in COVID-19 patients with the lowest census since the first part of November, he said.
Hospital staff members started receiving the vaccine Friday and continue to sign up for appointments, he said.
Fish said the most common side effect has been a sore arm for about a day and said the vaccine has been “very well-received” and there haven’t been any issues.
Eligible hospital staff members are currently receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at Columbus Regional Health.
Bunce said Jackson County will be receiving the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to distribute. It was approved under an emergency use authorization Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The vaccine is expected to arrive in the county Jan. 4 but won’t be administered until the week of Jan. 11 for those top-tier people who need it. This includes people over the age of 75 and essential workers.
The allotment for how many vaccines Jackson County receives changes week to week, and the health department doesn’t know how many it will get until the week before, Bunce said.
He said the information the county receives is “very provisional” and to expect changes.
When asked about when the general public will receive the vaccine, Bunce said he cannot imagine that being before late February.
“That’s just my gut feeling, and that would even be optimistic,” he said.
Bunce said his highest hope is to have the vaccine available in the general community before the end of the first quarter of 2021.
He also said even if a new reported strain of COVID-19 should begin spreading here, the vaccines that are currently being distributed will protect against it.
“The change in the strain is basically how infectious it is, not anything to do with our ability to form an immune response to it,” he said. “It doesn’t change the spike protein, which is what’s made by the vaccine. I think we’re good even with this new strain.”
Also during Tuesday’s call, Marvin Veatch with JCB announced the Seymour-based bank will continue to operate by appointment-only through the end of February 2021 for those wanting to conduct business inside.
The state announced Tuesday that 3,536 Jackson County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of 32 from Monday’s total.
No new deaths attributed to COVID-19 were reported in the county, meaning the death toll remains at 41.
A COVID-19-related death hasn’t been reported in the county since Dec. 8.
There have been 32,067 tests administered to 14,845 individuals in Jackson County since March 18, an increase of 303 from Monday’s total.
The latest results were as of 11:59 p.m. Monday. The ISDH’s coronavirus dashboard is updated at noon daily.
On Tuesday, 3,758 additional Hoosiers 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, following corrections to the previous day’s total, to 471,876.
The state’s total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 is 7,244 with 143 new deaths being reported Tuesday.
For the state, a total of 5,330,603 tests have been administered, an increase of 42,244 from Monday’s total.