On Monday, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) announced the 17th COVID-19 death in Wabash County.

As a result of the local rise in cases, National Guard soldiers have been dispatched to long-term care facilities, the Wabash County Health Department has issued new restrictions and more facilities have announced closures.

Peabody, National Guard respond to the latest outbreak

The ISDH updated its long-term care facilities dashboard with results as of Wednesday, Nov. 4 and were updated Wednesday, Nov. 11. The dashboard is updated weekly at noon 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.

During this most recent update, Peabody Retirement Community in North Manchester reported 25 new resident positive cases, five new resident deaths, 35 total resident positive cases and 89 staff positive cases.

On Monday, Rod Craft, executive director of Peabody Retirement Community, said since Oct. 29, they had 47 residents total test positive for COVID-19, with six recoveries; and 26 employees test positive, with six recoveries.

“Sadly, eight residents have died, and each had tested positive for the virus,” said Craft.

Craft said they anticipate they will be welcoming back additional employees over the next week or so. Craft said they continue to work closely with the ISDH and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

“To further contain the spread of COVID-19, we have remained diligent in our screening and testing efforts. This includes testing all of our residents and employees twice a week over the last two weeks, which is above and beyond current testing guidelines,” said Craft. “We are also providing and requiring on-going infection control training for all employees.”

On Tuesday, Craft said that on Nov. 2 the Indiana National Guard mobilized teams to 534 long-term care facilities at the direction of Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Craft said they were one of the communities receiving assistance.

“We are grateful for the ongoing collaboration with the ISDH and the Wabash County Health Department,” said Craft.

Craft said as of Tuesday, three Indiana National Guard soldiers are assisting us with entering over 900 test results weekly, as well as screening employees and guests before entering the building.

New local restrictions announced

On Tuesday, Dr. David G. Roe, Wabash County public health officer, said he and fellow health directors in the surrounding nine counties had agreed upon new restrictions Monday.

Those include:

Strict mask-wearing will be required at all indoor events, meetings, retail establishments, with signage that non-compliance will result in removal and refusal of service.

Under level Orange, which Wabash County currently is, attendance at social gatherings and events will be capped at 250 maximum. Fifth to 250 attendees are subject to county health officer approval. Fifty or fewer need no approval.

Athletic events, tournaments, and recreational sports leagues are capped at 250 attendees.

Roe said there will be no seating allowed at bars; seating is to be at tables only with a limit of 10 per table. All patrons must wear masks when not seated. Masks can be removed when eating or drinking. Patrons will have food and/or drinks ordered from their table from staff wearing masks, and orders will be delivered to the table to be consumed there only. Bars and restaurants will be limited to 50 percent capacity indoors, with outdoor seating at 100 percent. Any outdoor tents must have at least two open sides. Bars and restaurants must close from midnight to 5 a.m. Gyms and fitness centers are limited to 50 percent capacity. Schools must continue to practice social distancing and mask requirements.

Roe said if these counties moved to red, further restrictions would be implemented.

These would include:

Social gatherings and events are capped at 100 participants.

Twenty-five to 100 attendees are subject to review and approval by county health officers.

More local closures announced

On Monday, Marcie Shepherd, Wabash County auditor, said due to the increase in COVID cases within the county, effective Tuesday, the Wabash County Courthouse and other county buildings would be opened by appointment only. The announcement follows a similar announcement last week by Mayor Scott Long, who announced Wabash City Hall and the associated departments would be closed until Monday, Nov. 30.

Also on Monday, Jeanna Hann, North Manchester Public Library (NMPL) adult department manager and marketing coordinator, said the Wabash County Health Department had advised that they join the Wabash Carnegie Public Library (WCPL) in closing thier the building to the public.

NMPL will offer Curbside Services from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Curbside hours will be also from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays and closed Saturdays and Sundays. Patrons may place their Curbside Orders either by calling the library at 260-982-4773 or visiting www.nman.lib.in.us.

“We would like to thank all our patrons for their support during this time. The safety of our staff and patrons is our number one priority,” said Hann. “The library will continue to stay in touch with local health officials and will continue to carefully monitor the spread of Covid-19. We will assess weekly in regards to resuming regular hours, and will post any updates on our website and social media pages.”

School figures

The ISDH’s latest school dashboard results are as of 11:59 p.m. Friday, Nov. 13 and were updated Monday, Nov. 16. The dashboard is updated weekly at midnight Mondays.

Statewide, 288 schools reported no cases, 1,681 reported one or more case and 397 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, fewer than five new teacher positive cases, fewer than five new staff positive cases, 13 total student positive cases, fewer than five total teacher cases and six total staff positive cases.

Manchester Elementary School (MES) reported fewer than five each new student positive cases, total student positive cases and total staff positive cases.

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

Metro North Elementary School reported fewer than five each new teacher positive cases, total student positive cases and total teacher positive cases.

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

Northfield Jr./Sr. High School (NHS) reported fewer than five new student positive cases, fewer than five new teacher positive cases, 11 total student positive cases, fewer than five total teacher positive cases and fewer than five each total staff positive cases.

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

Southwood Elementary School reported fewer than five each new teacher positive cases and total teacher positive cases.

Wabash High School (WHS) reported fewer than five new student positive cases, fewer than five new teacher positive cases, fewer than five new staff positive cases, six total student positive cases, fewer than five total teacher positive cases and fewer than five total staff positive cases.

O.J. Neighbours Elementary School reported fewer than five each new student positive cases, new teacher positive cases, total student positive cases and total teacher 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; and one case at MCS Transportation including all schools in the district, with 25 people quarantined.

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

Wabash Middle School

Saint Bernard Elementary School

White’s Jr./Sr. High School

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

As of Tuesday, Nov. 10, the school had conducted 69 tests during the past seven days, with 100 percent of those being negative and 0 percent being positive. In total, there had been 1,935 tests performed, with 98.2 percent of those being negative, and 1.8 percent being positive. Also, there had been 27 self-reported cases on the North Manchester campus, and five on the Fort Wayne campus.

Local figures

On Saturday, the ISDH reported 52 new local positive COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 1,049, with 8,325 tests. The local seven-day positivity rate for all tests was 6.8 percent. The local seven-day positivity rate for unique individuals was 16.8 percent.

On Sunday, the ISDH reported 59 new local positive COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 1,106, with 8,492 tests. The local seven-day positivity rate for all tests was 10.9 percent. The local seven-day positivity rate for unique individuals was 19.3 percent.

On Monday, the ISDH reported 35 new local positive COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 1,141, with 8,537 tests. The local seven-day positivity rate for all tests was 11.4 percent. The local seven-day positivity rate for unique individuals was 19.1 percent.

On Tuesday, the ISDH reported 40 new local positive COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 1,181, with 8,639 tests. The local seven-day positivity rate for all tests was 11.8 percent. The local seven-day positivity rate for unique individuals was 20.3 percent.

Statewide figures

On Tuesday, the ISDH announced that 5,541 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 262,207 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard.

A total of 4,770 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 84 from the previous day. Another 255 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, 1,969,088 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 1,952,202 on Monday. A total of 3,612,076 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

The state Department of Health will offer free drive-thru clinics at the following locations through Saturday:

St. Timothy Church, 1600 W. 25th Ave., Gary.

Clay County Testing, 911 Bonnie Geyne Miller Drive, Brazil.

Spencer County Community Center, 1101 E. CR 800 North, Chrisney.

Kankakee Fire Station, 12161 N. County Road 200 East, Wheatfield.

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.