Boone County Health Dept. warns of expected COVID spike, announces vaccination plans


The Boone County Health Dept. reported fewer cases of COVID-19 in the weeks following Christmas, but health officials still expect a spike in coming weeks.

The department reported 273 cases two weeks ago and 271 cases the week before Christmas, a substantial decrease from the 531 cases reported during the reporting week that started Dec. 12 and ended Dec. 18.

BCHD Public Health Educator Claire Haughton said attributes the decrease to the fact Christmas and New Year’s Day were on Fridays, when many testing sites were closed the day of and the day before each holiday.

“Testing sites did report fewer tests scheduled, and my guess is that’s because many people were traveling or celebrating,” Haughton said. “We fully anticipate a Christmas- and New Year’s-related spike.”

Over the Jan. 2-3 weekend, Haughton said the BCHD reported more than 300 new cases and more were expected.

Local health officials announced said they want to begin Phase 1b vaccinations Jan. 12 in the Witham Centennial Hall North at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds, 1300 E 100 S., Lebanon. At that time, residents 80 and older can receive COVID-19 vaccines.

First responders, such as law enforcement, firefighters and EMTs, and volunteers for COVID-19 vaccine clinics s invitations were set to receive invitations for  COVID-19 vaccines last week, Haughton said.

BCHD officials want to eventually administer vaccines Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., but note the number of vaccines the county receives will limit the department’s hours during Phase 1b.

The vaccine site will be open Jan. 12 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., January 13 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Jan. 14 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Local health officials said the county expected to receive an initial shipment of between 100 and 200 doses of the Moderna vaccine Jan. 11. After that, BCHD Administrator and Nursing and Vital Records Director Lisa Younts said the department expects to receive a shipment each week. But she said the department will not receive the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine because it requires ultra-cold storage. Moderna’s vaccine can be stored at regular freezer temperatures.

Witham Health Services has received enough vaccine to operate without supply interruptions to date, Witham Health Services Marketing and Public Relations Director Mary Beth Searles said.

“As the Indiana State Dept. of Health progresses through their phased distribution plan in the coming weeks, we expect that our supply allocations will continue to meet the need,” Searles said.

Witham had vaccinated 946 as of Jan. 5, Searles said. The hospital is still scheduling appointments for Boone, Clinton and Montgomery counties. No adverse reactions have been reported at the hospital, to date. The hospital is now receiving the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccines. Witham has the equipment to store the Moderna vaccine.

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