On Saturday, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reported the 45th COVID-19 death in Wabash County.
And on Monday, the ISDH announced that a new strain of the virus that causes COVID-19 has been identified in Indiana.
The strain, which was identified through testing at the ISDH laboratory and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is the same one identified in the United Kingdom last fall. It does not cause more severe infections, but it is much more easily spread.
“Its common for viruses to mutate, and we are seeing that occur with COVID-19,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG. “Because this strain of the virus can be transmitted more easily, its more important than ever that Hoosiers continue to wear their masks, practice social distancing, maintain good hygiene and get vaccinated when they are eligible.”
Before the new mutation had been identified in the state, Box said during a televised press conference on Tuesday, Dec. 22 that they “do have the ability in the state” to test for the strain using a protein associated with the virus.
Box said this development shouldn’t undercut the state’s current vaccination efforts, but that it may be too early to say for sure.
“To our knowledge, our vaccines will still not be effected by this mutation in the particular strain but again, only time will tell that for us going forward. And if individuals who have been vaccinated end up infected, then it’s great to test to see what strain that particular individual was infected with,” said Box.
The ISDH’s school dashboard was updated Monday, Jan. 11 with data as of 11:59 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8. The dashboard is updated weekly at noon Mondays.
Statewide, 170 schools reported no cases, 1,896 reported one or more case and 302 have not reported.
In Wabash County, only White’s Jr./Sr. High School has reported to the ISDH that they have no cases.
During the latest update, Wabash County schools with one or more confirmed cases included:
Manchester Jr./Sr. High School (MHS) reported six new student positive cases, fewer than five new teacher positive cases, fewer than five new staff positive cases, 42 total student positive cases, 10 total teacher positive cases and nine total staff positive cases.
Manchester Elementary School (MES) reported fewer than five new student positive cases, six total student positive cases, fewer than five total teacher positive cases and fewer than five total staff positive cases.
Manchester Intermediate School (MIS) reported fewer than five new student positive cases and eight total student positive cases.
Metro North Elementary School reported fewer than five each total student positive cases, total teacher positive cases and total staff positive cases.
Heartland Career Center reported fewer than five each new staff positive cases and total staff positive cases.
Sharp Creek Elementary School reported fewer than five each total student positive cases, total teacher positive cases and total staff positive cases.
Northfield Jr./Sr. High School (NHS) reported 36 total student positive cases, fewer than five total teacher positive cases and eight total staff positive cases.
O.J. Neighbours Elementary School reported fewer than five new student positive cases, fewer than five new teacher positive cases, fewer than five total student positive cases, nine total teacher positive cases and fewer than five total staff positive cases.
Wabash Middle School reported 10 total student positive cases.
Wabash High School reported fewer than five new student positive cases, 13 student positive cases, fewer than five total teacher positive cases and fewer than five total staff positive cases.
St. Bernard Elementary School reported fewer than five total teacher positive cases.
Southwood Jr./Sr. High School (SHS) reported fewer than five new student positive cases, 15 total student positive cases and fewer than five total staff positive cases.
Southwood Elementary School reported fewer than five each total student positive cases, total teacher positive cases and total staff positive cases.
On the Manchester Community Schools’ (MCS) own dashboard the information is updated once contact tracing is complete and all close contacts have been notified. MCS defines close contact is when an individual is within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes of someone with confirmed COVID-19.
“The Wabash County Health Department determined close contacts in conjunction with school personnel and advised us who to quarantine,” stated MCS.
The individually reported MCS cases include:
Sept. 28: One case each at MES and MHS, with five people quarantined.
Oct. 10: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.
Oct. 14: One case at MHS, with two people quarantined.
Oct. 15: One case at MES, with five people quarantined. And one case at MHS, with two people quarantined.
Oct. 16: One case at MHS, with 34 people quarantined.
Oct. 20: One case at MHS, with no additional people quarantined.
Oct. 21: One case at MIS, with one person quarantined.
Oct. 28: One case at MHS, with no additional people quarantined.
Nov. 2: One case at MHS, with two people quarantined.
Nov. 3: Two cases at MHS, with two people quarantined.
Nov. 4: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.
Nov. 4: One case at MIS with one person quarantined.
Nov. 5: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.
Nov. 6: One case at MES, and one case at MHS, with two people quarantined.
Nov. 8: One case at MCS Transportation, with one person quarantined.
Nov. 9: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.
Nov. 10: Three cases at MHS, with three people quarantined; and one case at MES, with one person quarantined.
Nov. 13: One case at MHS, with three people quarantined.
Nov. 14: One case at MHS, with three people quarantined.
Nov. 16: Two cases at MHS, with seven people quarantined; one case at MCS Transportation including all schools in the district, with 25 people quarantined; and one case at MHS, with five people quarantined.
Nov. 17: One case at MES, with 22 people quarantined; and one case at MCS Transportation, with four people quarantined.
Nov. 19: One case at MHS, with six people quarantined; and one case at MCS Transportation, with one person quarantined.
Nov. 20: Two cases at MHS, with 15 people quarantined.
Nov. 22: One case at MES, with 11 people quarantined.
Nov. 23: One case at MHS, with two people quarantined.
Nov. 24: Four cases at MHS, with 24 people quarantined.
Nov. 25: One case at MHS, with four people quarantined.
Nov. 29: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.
Nov. 30: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.
Dec. 1: One case at MIS, with three people quarantined; and one case at MHS, with three people quarantined.
Dec. 3: One case at MHS, with two people quarantined.
Dec. 4: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.
Dec. 8: Three cases at MHS, with five people quarantined.
Dec. 10: Two cases at MHS, with 15 people quarantined.
Dec. 14: One case at MIS, with 17 people quarantined.
Dec. 16: One case at MES, with 16 people quarantined.
Dec. 17: One case at MHS, with 21 people quarantined.
Dec. 19: One case at MHS, with four people quarantined.
Dec. 20: One case at MHS, with three people quarantined.
Dec. 23: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined; and one case at MIS, with three people quarantined.
Dec. 26: One case at MIS, with one person quarantined.
Dec. 28: Two cases at MHS, with four people quarantined.
Dec. 31: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.
Jan. 2: One case at MHS, with two people quarantined.
Jan. 3: One case at the MCS Administrative Office, one person quarantined.
Jan. 4: One case at the MCS Administrative Office, one person quarantined.
Jan. 5: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined; and one case at MCS Transportation with four people quarantined.
Jan. 8: One case at MHS, with 22 people quarantined.
Jan. 9: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.
Schools of higher learning are not listed on the ISDH schools dashboard. However, Manchester University maintains its own, separate dashboard. On Monday, Nov. 23, 2020, students transitioned to remote learning and have left campus to complete the semester. During the fall semester, there were 1,987 tests performed, with 98.3 percent of those being negative, and 1.7 percent being positive. At the North Manchester campus, there were 36 self-reported cases, and at the Fort Wayne campus, there were nine self-reported cases.
On-campus COVID-19 testing began again the week of Jan. 4. Updates to this dashboard will be made each Friday to reflect the current week of testing and the semester to date. As of Friday, Jan. 8, a total of 89 tests were performed during the current week, with all of them being negative.
“Manchester’s protocol for positive COVID-19 test results is to have the individual self-isolate until their symptoms are gone and they have been without a fever for 48 hours. The University thoroughly cleans areas on campus where they have been with hospital-grade solutions, and the state of Indiana does contact tracing so that those who may have come in contact with the individual can take proper steps,” said assistant director of media relations Anne Gregory. “The testing data ... reflects total tests for the school year beginning Aug. 24, 2020, not active cases. Self-reported cases are from those students, staff and faculty who have tested at locations off-campus and have shared the results with the University. The University does not have access to total testing numbers off-campus. These numbers reflect total cases reported since Aug. 24, 2020, not active cases. Manchester University
does not release specific information about individuals who have tested positive, but will continue to report the number of positive cases among those who are on our North Manchester or Fort Wayne campuses.”
On Saturday, the ISDH reported 25 new local COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 2,766, with 12,454 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 5.8 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 19.7 percent.
On Sunday, the ISDH reported 25 new local COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 2,791, with 12,529 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 5.9 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 20.3 percent.
On Monday, the ISDH reported 12 new local COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 2,803, with 12,555 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 7.7 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 21 percent.
On Tuesday, the ISDH reported 18 new local COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 2,820, with 12,599 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 6.8 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 21.2 percent.
OptumServe will administer free COVID-19 testing from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at Parkview Wabash Hospital “on an on-going basis.” Testing will take place at 8 John Kissinger Drive in the first-floor conference room of the Medical Office Building (MOB) adjoining Parkview Wabash Hospital. Testing site patrons should not use the MOB entrance or enter through the hospital, but instead, enter and exit through the designated entrance between the two buildings. Signage will mark the appropriate entrance, which is within a few steps of the conference room and testing site.
On Tuesday, the ISDH announced that 3,191 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 570,477 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard.
A total of 8,731 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 88 from the previous day. Another 373 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by the state and occurred over multiple days.
To date, 2,770,157 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 2,762,573 on Monday. A total of 6,175,128 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the ISDH since Feb. 26.
To find testing sites around the state, visit www.corona virus.in.gov and click on the COVID-19 testing information link.
On Friday, Wade Weaver officially became a member of the Wabash City Council.
Weaver took the oath of office at the Wabash County Judicial Center after being appointed to that role the day before.
On Thursday, Wabash County Council District 2 representative and Wabash County Republican Party chair Barbara Pearson announced Wabash City Council District 1 representative Mitch Figert would be replaced by Weaver.
Pearson said Figert’s resignation after five years on the council was effective Thursday, Dec. 31.
Pearson said Weaver was appointed because there was only one qualifying precinct committeeman.
“I’m really excited about it, actually,” said Weaver, during a phone interview.
Weaver – who is the owner of WJOT-FM 105.9 The Bash – said he contacted Pearson about the role after he learned Figert had submitted his resignation.
“I knew that he was a Republican and I knew the chairperson in the county would be the one to know how it works,” said Weaver. “She said, ‘Yeah if you want to put your name in the ring, I’ll give you an application. Have it back to me by Jan. 4.’”
Weaver said he received a positive response just days after turning in his application.
Though this is Weaver’s first public office in Wabash County, he is no stranger to local politics. In the mid-1990s Weaver was elected to a school board seat in Marion. And in 2015, current Mayor Scott Long won the General Election by 91 votes against Democrat Margaret “Boo” Salb and beat then-Independent candidate Weaver by 230 votes.
“I just wanted to throw my name in there and get started,” said Weaver. “I’ve always been interested in it. Class president several times, all that kind of stuff. I really want to dive into how we can make this a good, thriving city again.”
Weaver said he didn’t necessarily have an agenda as he prepared to attend his first Wabash City Council meeting as a member later that evening.
“I definitely want to learn as much as I can,” said Weaver.
Weaver said he thought Figert “did a wonderful job of representing the south side.”
“I’d like to continue his agenda for the south side, but also city-wide and help the other councilmen and the mayor to keep the city moving like we’ve been doing,” said Weaver. “I don’t have a pet project or anything yet. I kind of want to get my feet wet and understand what my role is.”
Figert won re-election in 2019 and there are still three years left for Weaver to serve on the four-year term. Weaver said that even though the prospect of the 2023 primary election was quite a way off, he would be running “for sure.”
“I’ve got some time, but I will say I am very interested in running again. I want to do this for a little while,” said Weaver.
The show must go on, even in a pandemic.
After months of quiet stages, the Wabash Area Community Theater (WACT) has announced its first production of 2021, according to Bev Vanderpool.
Auditions for “Love Letters” by A.R. Gurney, will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 16 and Sunday, Jan. 17 in the Charley Creek Inn’s ballroom at 111 W. Market St.
“Love Letters is a play that requires only two actors. (It’s) one man and one woman, seated on stage reading aloud the love letters that they have sent to one another throughout their lifetimes,” said Vanderpool. “There is a great deal of humor, doubt, bitterness and love. Overall, it runs the gamut of emotions. It is wonderfully written.”
Vanderpool said for those who are interested in auditioning, the production requires “virtually no memorization.”
Vanderpool said the play is “a tender, tragi-comic and nuanced examination of the shared nostalgia, missed opportunities and a deep closeness of two lifelong complicated friends.”
Vanderpool said they planned to hold a maximum of five rehearsals.
“Please consider auditioning,” said Vanderpool.
The show itself will take place from Friday, Feb. 12 to Sunday, Feb. 14, which is Valentine’s Day weekend.
Vanderpool said the show will be featured as “Dinnertainment,” performed in a dinner theater setting in the Big Four Ballroom located in Charley Creek Inn.
Dinner theater tickets are $30 per person with advance purchase required. Show dates will be Friday, Feb. 12 and Saturday, Feb. 13. Doors and cash bar open at 6 p.m. The meal starts at 6:30 p.m. On Sunday, Feb. 14, the doors, cash bar and meal open at 12:30 p.m.
The WACT’s most recent productions included the winter 2019 comedy “Death by Chocolate” and the fall 2020 production of “Seussical the Musical.”
In June, Vanderpool put out a call for a director for this 2021 spring comedy. In the end, Brett Robinson was named to the role.
For more information, email Robinson at b.a. firstname.lastname@example.org.
For residents who qualify, the wait for the long-promised COVID-19 vaccine is almost over.
During Monday’s Wabash City Council meeting, Mayor Scott Long said Wabash County’s vaccination site would be open for business starting at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Wabash County Museum, 36 E. Market St.
Long said currently only police officers, fire department employees, EMS workers and anyone 80 years old and older will be eligible to sign up to receive a vaccination at the site for the time being.
However, Long said he was on a call with the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) that day and was told they were quickly going to transition to those 70 years old and above, and then 60 years old and above in the next few weeks. Additional groups, such as those based on underlying health conditions, will be added as the vaccine becomes available.
Long said they would be taking down a “call list” in case registrants do not show up for their appointment or cancel.
“If we can’t get somebody rescheduled we’ll be able to call people to come down to take the vaccine so that we’re not wasting doses,” said Long.
Long said they would be distributing the Moderna version of the vaccine, and the second shot would need to be administered four weeks after the first. Appointments for the second dose will be made at the clinic when the first dose is administered.
On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and the ISDH announced that Hoosiers age 80 and older will be eligible to register for a free COVID-19 vaccine beginning Friday, Jan. 8. At least one vaccine clinic will be located in each Indiana county.
As of last week, State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, said vaccine supplies are still limited. Indiana has received just over 350,000 doses of vaccine to date and is scheduled to receive about 78,000 vaccines per week at this time.
On Friday morning, the ISDH reported high interest in COVID-19 vaccines has caused slowdowns to the state’s vaccine registration site and 2-1-1 system, “but both systems are working.” Individuals who are having difficulty registering online can also call one of Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging for help with registration.
Long said he had heard that 2-1-1 was telling people to contact their local health departments, which could be a problem.
“Therein lies an issue with minimal staff at our health department and they’re doing flu shot clinics right now. So, if they don’t have the internet, they can call City Hall,” said Long. “A lot of the counties are just now going live to give the vaccine and that’s all just local health departments.”
Individuals age 80 and older account for less than 4 percent of the state’s population but represent more than 19 percent of the hospitalizations and more than half of the COVID-19 deaths in the state, according to the ISDH.
The ISDH reported a total of 33,500 Hoosiers age 80 or older registered for free COVID-19 vaccines between 9 and 11:30 a.m. Friday, the first day of eligibility for this age group. Among those registering, 21,000 people scheduled appointments in the first 90 minutes after registration opened.
As of Tuesday, more than 204,000 Hoosiers had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 31,000 have received both doses and are fully vaccinated. The ISDH has created a vaccine dashboard that will show the latest number of vaccines administered. The dashboard will be updated daily.
On Thursday, Wabash County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) director Keith Walters said they were seeking volunteers for a soon-to-be-opened local vaccine clinic.
Walters said they needed health care workers, nurses, paramedics, EMTs, pharmacists, registration workers and administration workers.
Walters said those who were interested should contact Parkview Wabash president Marilyn Custer-Mitchell by email at Marilyn.Custer -Mitchell@parkview.com.
On Friday, Jan. 8, Custer-Mitchell said this was not a Parkview initiative, but instead, a county effort, involving her, Long, North Manchester Town Manager Adam Penrod and Walters.
Custer-Mitchell said they have been told we will be receiving 100 doses a week for the next two weeks.
Custer-Mitchell said people who are eligible for vaccinations is determined by the ISDH. She said those interested must register and schedule an appointment ahead of time. Walk-ins will not be accepted. They can schedule by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov or calling 2-1-1.
Custer-Mitchell said they will run the clinic the first two weeks of Jan. 10 and Jan 17 from 1 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. She said the clinic is being held at the Wabash County Museum “due to the generosity of the Museum Board for allowing the use of the Porter Room.”
Custer-Mitchell said for the first two weeks they will need 16 volunteers each week, with volunteers working three-hour shifts each week on either Thursday or Saturday. Volunteers will be clinical, with the ability to administer the vaccine; or administrative, helping with registration and scheduling. Volunteers are being sought for the next two weeks for the following time frames: 1 to 4 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
On Friday, Walters said a photo ID, proof of age or verification of current employment as a healthcare worker or first responder in Indiana will be required for those interested in registering to get their vaccinations at the clinic.
Walters said there is no cost to the individual, but insurance may be charged an administration fee. Individuals should bring a photo ID and an insurance card if they have one.
Walters said people who have been vaccinated may still be able to infect others, so even those who are vaccinated should continue wearing a mask and quarantining if they are a close contact with a positive case.
As part of the state’s vaccination plan, Marion General Hospital (MGH) has been designated as a Phase 1-A vaccine distribution site and will be responsible for handling the vaccination of health care workers in Grant and Wabash counties.
On Thursday, Dec. 14, Lutheran Health community relations and strategic events director Joy Lohse said they would begin vaccinations the following morning at Dupont Hospital in Fort Wayne and Kosciusko Community Hospital in Warsaw.
On Tuesday, Dec. 29, Lohse said they had received their second shipment of the Pfizer vaccine and the first shipment of the Moderna vaccine.
At 12:09 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14, Parkview Health made history by administering the first COVID-19 vaccine in the state of Indiana. Parkview Health public relations manager Tami Brigle said Parkview anticipated receiving a shipment of about 2,000 doses of the vaccine that week and 8,000 doses the following week. As of Thursday, Dec. 17, Brigle said they had administered more than 650 vaccines to healthcare personnel from Monday through Wednesday of that week.
On Monday, Jan. 4, Parkview Health communications director Jessica Foor said they had administered 7,114 vaccinations as of Saturday, Jan. 2.
On Thursday, Jan. 7, Brigle said Parkview Health will continue to host a vaccine clinic now that the available pool of registrants has expanded beyond health care workers at the Parkview Mirro Center for Research & Innovation, 10622 Parkview Plaza Drive, Fort Wayne. Those eligible for vaccination must register for an appointment before arriving at the Parkview Mirro Center.
Brigle said family members will be allowed to make appointments on behalf of eligible seniors.
For more information, visit www.coronavirus.in.gov/ vaccine or https://ourshot.in.gov.