During the Wednesday, July 14 weekly Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) update, Wabash County’s COVID-19 advisory level rose from blue, the lowest category, to yellow, the second-lowest.

This uptick in new local infections comes as Wabash County, along with other rural areas, continues to lag behind the rest of the state in COVID-19 vaccinations.

As of Friday, July 16, a total of 5,746,173 vaccine doses have been administered in Indiana. This includes 2,857,784 first doses and 2,888,389 individuals who are fully vaccinated. The fully vaccinated number represents individuals who have received a second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines and those who received the single Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In all, a total of 49.6 percent of the state’s population age 16 and over are fully vaccinated, according to the ISDH vaccine dashboard.

However, in zip code 46992, which includes Wabash, only 37.1 percent of those eligible have been fully vaccinated.

State officials said this lack of widespread vaccination has contributed to the recent increase in cases.

During a televised press conference Friday, July 9, state health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said the state’s positivity rate was at a low of 2.1 percent in late June and had at that time crept back up to 3.2 percent. As of Friday, July 16 that statewide figure was at 4.5 percent.

Box said that while new COVID-19 deaths were at their lowest levels since early in the pandemic, there was also a rise in hospitalizations.

“Unfortunately we do expect to continue to see outbreaks, especially in areas with low vaccination rates,” said Box.

State chief medical officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said that they continued to see gaps in vaccine uptake both by age and by geography.

“Less than half of Hoosiers ages 40 to 49 have been vaccinated and the percentages drop off significantly in younger age groups,” said Weaver. “This is concerning.”

On Friday, July 16, the ISDH announced that 561 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 760,103 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard.

To date, 13,514 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of one from the previous day. Another 426 probable deaths have been reported to date based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record.

A total of 3,628,580 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,623,059 on Wednesday. A total of 11,022,858 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.

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

Hoosiers age 12 and older can receive a COVID-19 vaccine; individuals younger than age 18 are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine only. To find a vaccination clinic near you, visit https://ourshot.in.gov or call 211 if you do not have access to a computer or require assistance. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins are accepted at most sites.

Mobile vaccination clinics are planned from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday at the Kosciusko County Fair, 1400 E. Smith St., Warsaw; from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the Franklin County 4-H Fair, 7178 Blue Creek Road, Brookville; from 3 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday at the Gibson County Fair, 709 N. Embree St., Princeton; noon to 10 p.m. at the Tipton County Fair, 1200 S. Main St., Cicero Room, Tipton; from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Indiana Black & Minority Health Fair at the Indiana Convention Center, 100 S. Capitol Ave., Indianapolis.

Patients with an appointment at a state-hosted public vaccination site can get a free UBER or Lyft ride. Call 2-1-1 or 866-211-9966 to receive a voucher to cover the cost of an Uber ride to and from your vaccination appointments. IU Health offers free Lyft rides to any vaccine site in the state. Call 888-IUHEALTH (888-484-3258) and choose option 9 if you need transportation to your vaccine appointment.

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