Tom Ryan, Boone County Health Dept. emergency preparedness coordinator, said the county has seen unprecedented numbers of new COVID-19 cases in recent weeks, which have pushed the county closer to being a red county on the state’s color-coded coronavirus map.
In the reporting week ending Nov. 20 (the BCHD’s reporting week ends on Fridays), the department reported 390 new cases, the most since the start of the pandemic. Cases have increased each week since early October, and health officials have warned most cases have been attributed to community spread outside of long-term care facilities.
The following weekend, Nov. 21-22, 160 cases were reported, foreshadowing what was expected to be another record-high week of new cases.
Ryan said the county’s positivity rate for the first two weeks of November was 9.62 percent (the BCHD’s data is more recent than data reported by the Indiana State Dept. of Health). He said Nov. 23 that the county would still likely be orange on the state’s coronavirus map on Nov. 25, meaning no new state-level restrictions would be enacted. But he warned the county’s increasing positivity rate could turn the county red, meaning gathering restrictions would be restricted to 25 people. A county is deemed a red when it reports more than 200 positive cases per 100,000 residents and a 15 percent positivity rate. As of Nov. 18, Boone County had 517 positive cases per 100,000 residents.
“We’re expecting these last two weeks of November to be higher, even above 10 percent,” Ryan said.
The BCHD reported the county had an 11.8 percent positivity rate the third week of November.
Ryan said the BCHD is reviewing upcoming events to determine whether to permit them. In addition, the Boone County Commissioners renewed the county’s state of emergency resolution in response to a surge in county COVID-19 cases. The commissioners were scheduled to meet Nov. 30 to determine whether to renew the resolution for another week.
Witham Health Services also was expected to open a drive-thru testing site at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds beginning Nov. 30. A doctor’s note will be required to be tested at the site. Ryan said the site also would likely be the location of the county’s Phase 1 COVID-19 vaccination site. Health care professionals are expected to be the first to be vaccinated when shipments arrive. A vaccination site for Phase 2, when immunizations are expected to become available to more people, is still under consideration, Ryan said.