The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, December 14, 2021 1:00 am

PFW extending mask mandate

Through Jan. 31 as county COVID cases top 70,000

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

The rapid rise in COVID-19 cases in northeast Indiana contributed to Purdue University Fort Wayne's decision Monday to extend its indoor face mask requirement through Jan. 31.

Allen County, which last week turned red on the state's color-coded map for virus prevalence, topped 70,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases over the weekend, about a month after reaching 60,000.

This is the fastest Allen County has added 10,000 cases in about a year.

Confirmed diagnoses exceeded 60,000 on Nov. 5; 50,000 on Sept. 4; 40,000 on April 30; 30,000 on Jan. 9; 20,000 on Dec. 2, 2020; and 10,000 on Nov. 4, 2020.

The Allen County Department of Health reported 175 new cases and no new deaths Monday, bringing totals to 70,491 cases and 888 deaths.

The Indiana Department of Health reported 3,005 new COVID-19 cases and three deaths, bringing the totals to 1,162,284 cases and 17,471 deaths since the pandemic began. There have also been 614 more deaths in patients based on symptoms but without a positive test on record.

Purdue Fort Wayne said it monitors local and statewide coronavirus statistics locally.

“With the rapid rise in cases across northeast Indiana and the recent emergence of the highly transmissible Omicron variant, an extension of the indoor face mask requirement is a logical step that we can take to ensure that we start the spring semester with an eye toward the health and safety of all members of our university community,” the campus said in a statement.

The mask mandate applies to all students, employees and visitors regardless of vaccination status while inside campus buildings and structures, the university said.

The rule allows for some exceptions, including patrons of on-campus dining and individuals in a closed office or walled personal workspace.

The university reimplemented its mask mandate Aug. 9 after relaxing rules for fully vaccinated people June 28, when the number of new COVID-19 cases was much lower. The health department reported 399 new COVID-19 cases in all of June. In recent weeks, daily cases have topped 399 six times since Nov. 18.

Purdue Fort Wayne plans to revisit the facial covering requirement in January.

At a glance

Fully vaccinated eligible residents by county:

Adams: 11,430 (35.2%)

Allen: 189,875 (53.8%)

DeKalb: 17,034 (41.9%)

Huntington: 15,916 (46.2%)

Kosciusko: 30,967 (41.7%)

LaGrange: 8,434 (23.4%)

Noble: 18,012 (40.4%)

Steuben: 14,929 (45.6%)

Wabash: 12,135 (41.3%)

Wells: 11,166 (42.1%)

Whitley: 14,377 (45%)

Source: Indiana Department of Health

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