On Friday, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reported the 75th Wabash County COVID-19 death.

Despite that, the local positivity rate has continued to slowly decline, which was reflected in the lowering of the advisory level from orange, the second-highest level, to yellow, the second-lowest level.

During a televised press conference Wednesday, state health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said “the color-coded county maps look the best they’ve looked in months.”

The results are as of 11:59 p.m. Monday, Feb. 15. The county metrics map is updated at noon Wednesdays and reflects data through the previous Sunday.

Wabash County’s positivity rates have declined for several weeks, but because the ISDH insists “a county must remain at a lower (score) for two consecutive weeks to move down to a lower advisory level” this is the first week in several months the local advisory level has slipped below orange.

During the same televised press conference Wednesday, Box said they wanted “to be transparent with our data and our data review.”

“We are reporting data as fast and furious and we get it, but behind the scenes, we are in a constant review of that data,” said Box. “We continue to review our death data to ensure that all deaths are accounted for and those occurring among staff and residents of our long-term care facilities on our dashboard.”

The ISDH’s long-term care facilities dashboard was updated at noon Wednesday, Feb. 17 with results as of Wednesday, Feb. 10. 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, only Bickford of Wabash reported no cases.

Box said the most recent update to the ISDH’s long-term care dashboard includes 659 historical resident deaths and one historical staff death that were previously included in the state’s overall death totals but not assigned to a long-term care facility.

“I want to be clear with you, these deaths are already part of our overall statewide dashboard,” said Box.

Box said she issued an order in April 2020 to all long-term care facilities to report any COVID-19-related death or suspected COVID-19 related death to the ISDH.

Box said facilities submit information directly to the state when a death occurs. However, these newly-added historical deaths “were not reported through this system, it appears.”

“All of these positive cases were reported through the long-term care portal but it wasn’t until we reviewed cases and cross-referenced them with the death records that we determined that they were not included in the long-term care dashboard,” said Box. “We are just now, however, matching them with long-term care facilities.”

Box said these historical deaths represent 273 different facilities with deaths occurring from April 2020 until the end of January 2021.

During the latest update, in Wabash County:

Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester reported 10 total resident positive cases, fewer than five total resident deaths and 49 staff positive cases.

Peabody Retirement Community in North Manchester reported 54 total resident positive cases, 13 total resident deaths (four of which were newly-added historical deaths) and 125 staff positive cases.

Wellbrooke of Wabash reported fewer than five new resident positive cases, 34 total resident positive cases, 12 total resident deaths (two of which were newly-added historical deaths) and 33 staff positive cases.

Autumn Ridge Rehabilitation Centre reported 19 total positive cases, fewer than five total resident deaths and 15 staff positive cases.

Vernon Health and Rehabilitation reported 36 total resident positive cases, fewer than five total resident deaths and 27 staff positive cases.

Rolling Meadows Health Care Centre in LaFontaine reported 56 total resident positive cases, 16 total resident deaths (three of which were newly-added historical deaths) and 15 staff positive cases.

Miller’s Merry Manor – Wabash East reported fewer than five new resident deaths, 51 total resident positive cases, nine total resident deaths and 32 staff positive cases.

Miller’s Merry Manor – Wabash West reported fewer than five total resident positive cases, fewer than five total resident deaths and 14 staff positive cases.

Local figures

On Wednesday, the ISDH reported four new local COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 3,260, with 13,866 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 3.4 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 18.9 percent.

On Thursday, the ISDH reported three new local COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 3,263, with 13,882 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 2.9 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 15.1 percent.

On Friday, the ISDH reported eight new local COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 3,271, with 13,906 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 2.8 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 13.7 percent.

Statewide figures

On Friday, the ISDH announced Friday that 1,080 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 653,245 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard.

A total of 11,898 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 44 from the previous day. Another 427 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record.

To date, 3,069,866 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,065,342 on Thursday. A total of 7,683,034 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.corona virus.in.gov and click on the COVID-19 testing information link.

Hoosiers age 65 and older, along with healthcare workers, long-term care residents and first responders who are regularly called to the scene of an emergency to render medical assistance, are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. To schedule, visit https://our shot.in.gov or call 211 if you do not have access to a computer or require assistance. Individuals must show proof that they live or work in Indiana and meet the eligibility criteria to receive a vaccine.

As of today, 866,680 Hoosiers have received a first dose of vaccine, and 401,792 are fully vaccinated.

Additional locations and appointments are being added as more vaccine becomes available.

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