The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, October 13, 2021 1:00 am

Concern remains as local COVID-19 cases plateau


While COVID-19 vaccinations in Indiana last week fell to their lowest level since winter, Allen County doubled its number of vaccinations from the week before.

But local health officials remain concerned that the county's new cases haven't declined.

“What is unusual is that we seem to have plateaued, while the rest of the state and the nation have seen a decrease,” Dr. Matthew Sutter, county health commissioner, said during Tuesday's meeting of the Allen County Health Department board.

“We are not improving as quickly as I had hoped,” Sutter said.

According to the Indiana Department of Health, Hoosiers received about 6,000 shots a day last week – about half the rate from early September.

In Allen County, the number of shots given last week rose to about 6,000, up from about 3,000 the previous week, said Mindy Waldron, health department administrator.

Allen County's fully vaccinated rate stands at 58%, she said. That puts the county ahead of the state's rate of 49% and just above the national rate of about 57%.

Three county ZIP codes have vaccination rates much higher than any of those rates, Waldron said – 46845 in northern Allen County at 83.04%, 46748 in the Huntertown area at 86.87% and 46814 in southwest Allen County at 98.03%.

However, Allen County remains in the state's red category, the most serious, for high rates of virus spread, Sutter said.

The county is in the orange category, the second highest, for the percentage of tests that come back positive, he said.

“We are still at a high level of community transmission, so it is not time to let down our guard,” Sutter said.

The state's weekly color-coded map will be released today, and it will likely show most counties in orange and a few in the lower category of yellow, Sutter said. The only regional county in red is LaGrange, he said.

Tuesday's newly reported Allen County cases stood at 167, for a total of 56,939 cases. Another eight residents were reported to have died, bringing the county's deaths to 788.

Indiana's pandemic death toll stands at 15,586, with 44 deaths reported Tuesday. The state reported 1,630 new cases Tuesday for a total of 988,765 cases.

Dr. Richard Feldman, former state health commissioner under Democratic Gov. Frank O'Bannon, said he was concerned the state's falling vaccination pace will allow COVID-19 to “smolder and smolder and smolder” through the population.

“I think a lot of people have just moved on; they're tired of it,” Feldman said Tuesday of COVID-19. “I just don't understand that reasoning.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

This story has been corrected.

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