On Wednesday, the state released its plan to more widely distribute COVID-19 vaccines and the following day, Wabash announced it would open its vaccination site next week.

Meanwhile, Wabash County’s COVID-19 spread rating remains in the orange or second-highest category. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) dashboard was updated Wednesday, Jan. 6 with results as of 11:59 p.m. Monday, Jan. 4. The county metrics map is updated at noon Wednesdays and reflects data through the previous Sunday.

State releases vaccine plan

On Wednesday, Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and the ISDH announced that Hoosiers age 80 and older will be eligible to register for a free COVID-19 vaccine beginning Friday, Jan. 8.

State Health Commissioner Kris Box, M.D., FACOG, said vaccine supplies are still limited. Indiana has received just over 350,000 doses of vaccine to date and is scheduled to receive about 78,000 vaccines per week at this time.

“By opening vaccine to those who are 80 or older, then adding people in their 70s and 60s when vaccine supplies allow us to expand, we can best protect the populations that account for 93 percent of our COVID-19 deaths,” Box said.

On Friday morning, the ISDH reported high interest in COVID-19 vaccines has caused slowdowns to the state’s vaccine registration site and 211 system, “but both systems are working.”

“We are gratified by the high interest in vaccine registration for our most vulnerable Hoosiers and encourage everyone to be patient,” said Box. “We anticipated these scenarios on the first day and have a system in place to address them as quickly as possible.”

Individuals age 80 and older account for less than 4 percent of the state’s population but represent more than 19 percent of the hospitalizations and more than half of the COVID-19 deaths in the state, according to the ISDH

Individuals who are having difficulty registering online can also call one of Indiana’s Area Agencies on Aging for help with registration.

At least one vaccine clinic will be located in each Indiana county.

Appointments for the second dose will be made at the clinic when the first dose is administered.

Additional groups, such as those based on underlying health conditions, will be added as the vaccine becomes available.

The ISDH reported a total of 33,500 Hoosiers age 80 or older registered for free COVID-19 vaccines between 9 and 11:30 a.m. Friday, the first day of eligibility for this age group. Among those registering, 21,000 people scheduled appointments in the first 90 minutes after registration opened.

“A caregiver or loved one also may make an appointment on behalf of an eligible senior,” stated the ISDH. “Individuals may encounter wait times due to a high volume of interest. The registration system was designed to put visitors into a holding queue when the volume is high. The ISDH encourages eligible Hoosiers to be patient or to check back later in the day.”

Local vaccine clinic to open

On Thursday, Wabash County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) director Keith Walters said they were seeking volunteers for a soon-to-be-opened local vaccine clinic.

Walters said they needed health care workers, nurses, paramedics, EMTs, pharmacists, registration workers and administration workers.

Walters said those who were interested should contact Parkview Wabash president Marilyn Custer-Mitchell by email at Marilyn.Custer -Mitchell@parkview.com.

On Friday, Custer-Mitchell said this was not a Parkview initiative, but instead a county effort, involving her, Wabash Mayor Scott Long, North Manchester Town Manager Adam Penrod and Walters.

“There are a lot of other people stepping in and helping out,” said Custer-Mitchell.

Custer-Mitchell said the vaccination clinic will follow the ISDH guidelines.

“This includes number of doses we receive each week and who is eligible to receive vaccines each week,” she said.

Custer-Mitchell said they have been told we will be receiving 100 doses a week for the next two weeks, “so the number of possible vaccinations will be limited.”

“This process is all very fluid and changes daily based on doses the state will receive from the federal government,” she said.

Custer-Mitchell said people who are eligible for vaccinations is determined by the ISDH. She said those interested must register and schedule an appointment ahead of time. Walk-ins will not be accepted. They can schedule by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov or calling 2-1-1.

“We are strongly encouraging anyone eligible who is 80 years old and older to get the vaccine,” she said.

Custer-Mitchell said they will run the clinic the first two weeks of Jan. 10 and Jan 17 from 1 to 7 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. She said the clinic is being held at the Wabash County Museum due to the generosity of the Museum Board for allowing the use of the Porter Room.

Custer-Mitchell said for the first two weeks they will need 16 volunteers each week, with volunteers working three-hour shifts each week on either Thursday or Saturday. Volunteers will be clinical, with the ability to administer the vaccine; or administrative, helping with registration and scheduling. Volunteers are being sought for the next two weeks for the following time frames: 1 to 4 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Thursdays, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

Custer-Mitchell said currently, eligible healthcare workers in Wabash County can receive their vaccine through Marion General Hospital.

“This process will continue,” she said.

On Friday, Walters said a photo ID, proof of age or verification of current employment as a healthcare worker or first responder in Indiana will be required for those interested in registering to get their vaccinations at the clinic.

Walters said there is no cost to the individual, but insurance may be charged an administration fee. Individuals should bring a photo ID and an insurance card if they have one.

“Two vaccines, developed by Pfizer and Moderna, are currently available. Each requires two doses administered at least 21 days apart for the Pfizer vaccine and 28 days apart for the Moderna vaccine. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after the second vaccination,” said Walters. “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the vaccines under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), meaning the vaccines must be proven safe and effective in the same way that all medications and devices must be. The vaccines have been found in trials to be 94 percent to 95 percent effective in preventing COVID-19 infections in participants. Side effects are temporary and are generally mild, including fatigue, headache and sometimes fever.”

Walters said people who have been vaccinated may still be able to infect others, so even those who are vaccinated should continue wearing a mask and quarantining if they are a close contact of a positive case.

Walters said the best ways to protect yourself and others are to:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands

Avoid close contact with people who are sick

Stay home when you’re sick

Cover your cough or sneeze

Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

For more information, visit https://ourshot.in.gov.

Long-term care facilities

The ISDH’s long-term care facilities dashboard was updated at noon Wednesday, Jan. 6 with results as of Wednesday, Dec. 30. 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.

Otherwise, during the latest update, in Wabash County:

Timbercrest Senior Living Community in North Manchester reported seven total resident positive cases, fewer than five total resident deaths and 36 staff positive cases.

Peabody Retirement Community in North Manchester reported fewer than five new resident deaths, 52 total resident positive cases, nine total resident deaths and 117 staff positive cases.

Wellbrooke of Wabash reported 26 total resident positive cases, nine total resident deaths, fewer than five new resident positive cases, fewer than five new resident positive deaths and 22 staff positive cases.

Autumn Ridge Rehabilitation Centre reported 19 total positive cases, fewer than five total resident deaths and 14 staff positive cases.

Vernon Health and Rehabilitation reported fewer than five new resident positive cases, fewer than five new resident positive cases, 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, 13 total resident deaths and 14 staff positive cases.

Miller’s Merry Manor – Wabash East reported seven total resident positive cases and 20 staff positive cases.

Miller’s Merry Manor – Wabash West reported fewer than five total resident positive cases and 10 staff positive cases.

School figures

The ISDH’s school dashboard was updated Monday, Jan. 5 with data as of 11:59 p.m. Friday, Jan. 2. The dashboard is updated weekly at noon Mondays.

Statewide, 175 schools reported no cases, 1,886 reported one or more case and 307 have not reported.

In Wabash County, only White’s Jr./Sr. High School has reported to the ISDH that they have no cases.

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, 36 total student positive cases, eight

total teacher positive cases and eight total staff positive cases.

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

Manchester Intermediate School (MIS) reported six total student positive cases.

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

Heartland Career Center reported fewer than five total staff positive cases.

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

Northfield Jr./Sr. High School (NHS) reported 36 total student positive cases, fewer than five total teacher positive cases and eight total staff positive cases.

O.J. Neighbours Elementary School reported fewer than five total student positive cases, eight total teacher positive cases and fewer than five total staff positive cases.

Wabash Middle School reported 10 total student positive cases.

Wabash High School reported 10 total student positive cases, fewer than five total teacher positive cases and fewer than five total staff positive cases.

St. Bernard Elementary School reported fewer than five total teacher positive cases.

Southwood Jr./Sr. High School (SHS) reported 14 total student positive cases and fewer than five total staff positive cases.

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

Nov. 17: One case at MES, with 22 people quarantined; and one case at MCS Transportation, with four people quarantined.

Nov. 19: One case at MHS, with six people quarantined; and one case at MCS Transportation, with one person quarantined.

Nov. 20: Two cases at MHS, with 15 people quarantined.

Nov. 22: One case at MES, with 11 people quarantined.

Nov. 23: One case at MHS, with two people quarantined.

Nov. 24: Four cases at MHS, with 24 people quarantined.

Nov. 25: One case at MHS, with four people quarantined.

Nov. 29: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.

Nov. 30: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.

Dec. 1: One case at MIS, with three people quarantined; and one case at MHS, with three people quarantined.

Dec. 3: One case at MHS, with two people quarantined.

Dec. 4: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.

Dec. 8: Three cases at MHS, with five people quarantined.

Dec. 10: Two cases at MHS, with 15 people quarantined.

Dec. 14: One case at MIS, with 17 people quarantined.

Dec. 16: One case at MES, with 16 people quarantined.

Dec. 17: One case at MHS, with 21 people quarantined.

Dec. 19: One case at MHS, with four people quarantined.

Dec. 20: One case at MHS, with three people quarantined.

Dec. 23: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined; and one case at MIS, with three people quarantined.

Dec. 26: One case at MIS, with one person quarantined.

Dec. 28: Two cases at MHS, with four people quarantined.

Dec. 31: One case at MHS, with one person quarantined.

Jan. 2: One case at MHS, with two people quarantined.

Jan. 3: One case at the MCS Administrative Office, one person quarantined.

Jan. 4: One case at the MCS Administrative Office, one person quarantined.

Jan. 5: One case at MHS, with one quarantined; and one case at MCS Transportation with four people quarantined.

Testing continues at Parkview Wabash

OptumServe will administer free COVID-19 testing from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays at Parkview Wabash Hospital “on an on-going basis.” Testing will take place at 8 John Kissinger Drive in the first-floor conference room of the Medical Office Building (MOB) adjoining Parkview Wabash Hospital. Testing site patrons should not use the MOB entrance or enter through the hospital, but instead, enter and exit through the designated entrance between the two buildings. Signage will mark the appropriate entrance, which is within a few steps of the conference room and testing site.

Local figures

On Wednesday, the ISDH reported 29 new local positive COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 2,702, with 12,286 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 7.2 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 21.3 percent.

On Thursday, the ISDH reported 16 new local positive COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 2,718, with 12,324 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 5.8 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 20 percent.

On Friday, the ISDH reported 24 new local positive COVID-19 cases, bringing Wabash County’s total to 2,741, with 12,391 tests. The local seven-day positivity rating for all tests was 5.8 percent. The local seven-day positivity rating for unique individuals was 19.9 percent.

Statewide figures

On Friday, the ISDH announced that 6,199 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 552,594 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard.

A total of 8,521 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 69 from the previous day. Another 371 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, 2,724,389 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 2,694,585 on Thursday. A total of 6,005,403 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

In addition to the Parkview Wabash site, the ISDH will offer free testing from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at the following locations:

Schinkle Station, 111 W. State St., Huntington.

Lawrence County Fairgrounds, 11265 U.S. 50, Bedford.

Wayne County Fairgrounds, 861 Salisbury Road, Richmond.

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.