During the Wednesday, Nov. 24 COVID-19 county metrics update, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) moved Wabash County’s advisory level to red, the highest level, for the first time since February.

On Tuesday, Nov. 23, the ISDH reported the 108th COVID-19 death in Wabash County.

All this news comes as the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Wabash County approach 6,000 and local vaccination rates continues to lag behind the state average.

As of Monday, Nov. 22, there were 5,898 local positive COVID-19 cases in Wabash County, with 19 of those being new. The local seven-day positivity rating of 20.7 percent for all tests, and a local seven-day positivity rating of 38.8 percent for unique individuals.

The number of local tests administered sat at 20,042. Earlier that day, the ISDH dashboard listed 717 of those being new, several times more than any other recent day. However, the ISDH soon confirmed that number was incorrect.

“We are working to correct a technical issue that impacted the dashboard numbers,” said ISDH Office of Public Affairs director and deputy chief of staff Jennifer O’Malley.

Later that day, that number was altered to show that 29 of those tests were new.

As of Wednesday, Nov. 24, there were 5,958 local positive COVID-19 cases in Wabash County, with 43 of those being new. The local seven-day positivity rating of 19.6 percent for all tests, and a local seven-day positivity rating of 37 percent for unique individuals.

In observance of Thanksgiving, the ISDH dashboard will not update again until Monday, Nov. 29.

In the zip code 46992, which comprises Wabash, 40.3 percent of the eligible population has been vaccinated. Statewide, that figure sits at 52.6 percent, as of Wednesday, Nov. 24.

The eligible population for vaccinations increased earlier this month as the minimum age was lowered from 12 to 5. On Wednesday, Nov. 3, the ISDH announced that Hoosiers ages 5 to 11 are now eligible for a free COVID-19 vaccine following the previous day’s authorization of the pediatric vaccine by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Pfizer vaccine is the only COVID-19 vaccine that is currently authorized for use in individuals under age 18.

On Friday, Nov. 19, the ISDH announced that any Hoosier age 18 or older can now receive a booster dose of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines if they received their second dose at least six months ago. Earlier that same day, the CDC approved the administration of a booster dose of both vaccines for people aged 18 and older following the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision to expand its Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for boosters. Previously, the FDA had approved a third dose for immunocompromised individuals and had allowed boosters for individuals who met certain criteria.

Individuals may still choose which COVID-19 vaccine to receive as a booster shot. Some people may prefer the vaccine type that they originally received, and others may prefer to get a different booster. Individuals who received the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine are eligible for a booster two months or more after their initial dose.

Parents who wish to schedule an appointment for their child to receive the vaccine and Hoosiers age 18 and older who want to obtain a booster dose may visit www.ourshot.in.gov or call 211 or 866-211-9966.

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

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