On Friday, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reported the 10th confirmed COVID-19 death in Wabash County. The ISDH has also reported an additional 69 new local positive COVID-19 cases since Wednesday.

Due to climbing local COVID-19 cases, Mayor Scott Long announced at Monday’s Wabash City Council meeting that the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and the city of Wabash have opened a free drive-thru clinic for COVID-19 testing.

The clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Saturday, and also from Tuesday, Nov. 3 to Saturday, Nov. 7 at 1360 Manchester Ave.

Testing will be available to all members of the public regardless of symptoms. Children as young as 2 years of age can be tested with parental consent. Indiana residents will not be charged for testing. Those who have private health insurance should bring that information with them.

On Wednesday, Long said the site tested 140 people on Tuesday, the first day of testing.

Long said the turnaround on these tests was between three and five days, but some are coming back within 48 to 72 hours. Long said the results for those tests wouldn’t start being added to the state’s dashboard until Friday at the earliest, “as the courier doesn’t pick the tests up until around 3 p.m. daily.”

“I anticipate seeing increased numbers of tests for Wabash County beginning Friday and through the weekend, with ‘wishful’ thinking that positive cases won’t increase much,” said Long. “Note the ‘wishful’ as I believe we will see a dramatic increase. This is worrisome for me as mayor as we approach Thanksgiving, colder weather, and Christmas as this will drive people indoors in larger than normal family gatherings. This is a bad combination for the virus to spread.”

During the most recent update by the ISDH, Wabash County’s weekly score was downgraded from orange to yellow, the third-highest designation. The latest results are as of 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25. The county metrics map is updated at midnight Wednesdays and reflects data through the previous Sunday.

Also on Monday, Long said he had decided to keep the doors of City Hall locked and all business will be conducted by appointment only until further notice. Long said all city meetings will be either in person with social distancing or by Zoom meeting remotely. Long said masks will be mandatory to enter the building and must remain in place while conducting business.

Halloween changes

On Tuesday, Oct. 20, Dr. David G. Roe, Wabash County health officer, said the Wabash County Board of Health was now discouraging mass gatherings where social distancing can not be followed.

On Monday, Oct. 26, Anne Gregory, assistant director of media relations in the Office of Strategic Communications at Manchester University, said the Monster Mash trick-or-treat planned for Saturday, Oct. 31 at Manchester University had been canceled.

Roe offered the following tips for those who do choose to still participate in Halloween events:

Wash or sanitize your hands often.

Clean frequently touched items.

Avoid close contact. Stay at least six feet away from all people who are not a part of your household.

Avoid spaces that don’t allow for the distancing of at least six feet between you and others.

Be sure to correctly wear face-covering when outside around others.

“A Halloween costume mask is not a substitute for a cloth mask. The department also suggests not wearing a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume makes it hard to breathe,” said Roe.

School figures

The ISDH’s latest school dashboard results are as of 11:59 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23 and were updated Monday, Oct. 26. The dashboard is updated weekly at midnight Mondays.

Statewide, 562 schools reported no cases, 1,314 reported one or more case and 490 have not reported.

During the latest update, Wabash County schools with one or more confirmed cases included:

Manchester Jr./Sr. High School (MHS) reported fewer than five new student positive cases, six total student positive cases and fewer than five total staff positive cases.

Manchester Elementary School (MES) reported fewer than five total student positive cases.

Manchester Intermediate Schools (MIS) reported fewer than five each new student positive cases and total student positive cases.

Metro North Elementary School reported fewer than five total student positive cases.

Sharp Creek Elementary School reported fewer than five each new staff positive cases and total staff positive cases.

Northfield Jr./Sr. High School (NHS) reported fewer than five each new staff positive cases, total new student positive cases and total staff positive cases.

Southwood Jr./Sr. High School (SHS) reported fewer than five each new student positive cases and total student 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.

Schools of higher learning are not listed on the ISDH schools dashboard. However, Manchester University maintains its own, separate dashboard.

As of Tuesday, Oct. 27, the school had conducted 117 tests during the past seven days, with 99.1 percent of those being negative and .9 percent being positive. In total, there had been 1,685 tests performed, with 98.5 percent of those being negative, and 1.5 percent being positive. Also there had been 10 self-reported cases on the North Manchester campus, and three on the Fort Wayne campus.

During the latest ISDH update, Wabash County schools with no reported cases included:

O.J. Neighbours Elementary School

Wabash Middle School

Saint Bernard Elementary School

White’s Jr./Sr. High School

Southwood Elementary School

Only the Heartland Career Center and Emmanuel Christian School have not reported any data to the ISDH. Heartland Career Center allows students’ schools to report their data.

Emmanuel Christian School has not yet responded to a request for comment.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

Long-term care facilities

The latest ISDH results for long-term care facilities are as of Wednesday, Oct. 21 and were updated Wednesday, Oct. 28. The dashboard is updated weekly at midnight Wednesdays. New positive cases and deaths have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the ISDH seven days before the last dashboard update.

In Wabash County:

Rolling Meadows Health Care Center in La Fontaine reported 45 total resident cases, 10 total resident deaths and 10 total staff positive cases.

Peabody Retirement Community in North Manchester reported nine total resident positive cases, fewer than five total resident deaths and 77 total staff positive cases.

Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester reported fewer than five each total resident positive cases, total resident deaths and total staff positive cases.

Miller’s Merry Manor – Wabash East reported fewer than five each total resident positive cases and staff positive cases.

Wellbrooke of Wabash reported fewer than five staff positive cases.

Miller’s Merry Manor – Wabash East reported fewer than five each new resident positive cases, total resident positive cases and total staff positive cases.

No other long-term care facilities in Wabash County reported cases to the ISDH.

Local figures

On Wednesday, the ISDH reported 30 new local positive COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 489, with 6,368 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 7.1 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 12.4 percent.

On Thursday, the ISDH reported 19 new local positive COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 507, with 6,470 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 6.3 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 10.8 percent.

On Friday, the ISDH reported 20 new local positive COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 526, with 6.538 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 6.4 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 11.3 percent.

As of Friday, the ISDH reported the following Wabash County demographics for positive cases by age group:

Ages 0 to 19: 14.3 percent

Ages 20 to 29: 16.5 percent

Ages 30 to 39: 13.5 percent

Ages 40 to 49: 11.8 percent

Ages 50 to 59: 11 percent

Ages 60 to 69: 12.5 percent

Ages 70 to 79: 11 percent

Ages 80 and above: 9.3 percent

The ISDH reported the following gender breakdowns for Wabash County positive cases:

Female: 61.4 percent

Male: 37.8 percent

Unknown: .8 percent

The ISDH reported the following racial breakdowns for Wabash County positive cases:

White: 77.6 percent

Other race: 9.1 percent

Black or African American: 1.1 percent

Asian: .4 percent

Unknown: 11.8 percent

The ISDH reported the following ethnic breakdowns for Wabash County positive cases:

Not Hispanic or Latino: 66.2 percent

Hispanic or Latino: 3 percent

Unknown: 30.8 percent

Statewide figures

On Friday, the ISDH announced that 3,205 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. These results stem from a record 41,181 tests reported to the state in the last 24 hours.

A total of 175,893 Indiana residents are now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard, while 4,050 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 26 from the previous day. Another 236 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, 1,684,783 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 1,671,093 on Thursday. A total of 2,863,919 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

Besides the Wabash location, the ISDH will offer free drive-thru testing sites from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the following locations:

Lake County Health Department, 2900 W. 93rd Ave., Crown Point.

Morgan County Fairgrounds, 1749 Hospital Drive, Martinsville.

White Horse Christian Center, 1780 Cumberland Ave., West Lafayette.

To find other testing sites around the state, visit www.coronavirus.in.gov and click on the COVID-19 testing information link.

Rob Burgess, Wabash Plain Dealer editor, may be reached by email at rburgess@wabashplaindealer.com.