Positive cases of COVID have been fluctuating recently in Grant County, but almost all cases have been for the delta variant.

Grant County was recently informed again that it is in the red level for COVID due to high numbers of positive cases.

At the close of last weekend and the beginning of the week, the county was above 80 new cases. In the 24-hour period before Wednesday, only 50 cases were reported. Health officials recognized that 50 cases was a high only a few weeks ago, but it is now a goal number due to the increase. The county also recognized that cases are fluctuating rapidly, so numbers may increase over the holiday weekend.

As of Wednesday, Grant County has seen 12,405 positive cases since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. A recently reported death has now raised the number to 233 deaths.

Bardsley stated that many people compare COVID rates to the flu. However, two years ago, the number of deaths during the flu season were approximately 185 for the entire state, but the 233 deaths from COVID are in Grant County alone.

“We really are in the middle of a crisis,” said commissioner Mark Bardsley. “Even though we’re seeing a 98 percent recovery rate in most places, we are losing people.”

Bardsley claimed that 95 percent of those testing positive for COVID recently are being diagnosed with the delta variant, and other variants do not seem to be a threat. COVID vaccinations are still effective for the delta variant and new mutations and variants according to Bardsley.

According to officials, regional hospitals are refusing transfers from Grant County due to limited spaces from COVID hospitalizations. Patients who have suffered heart attacks or other health problems have been rerouted due to regional hospitals lacking the space and resources during the pandemic.

Bardsley mentioned how local hospitals, such as Marion Health, are developing specific COVID wards and are seeking assistance from the state.

Members of the National Guard were called into Marion Health to help with the COVID unit due to staffing issues, according to Bardsley and Marion Health officials.

The National Guard’s Hospital Crisis Response Team arrived at Marion Health on Wednesday at 12 p.m. to support staff during the holiday. The team consisted of six medics and four generalists who will stay with Marion Health until Nov. 30 according to Marion Health administrative director of marketing and community outreach Kate Lyons.

“Hospital leadership requested this support from the Indiana Department of Health in preparation for the holiday week and in light of rising COVID numbers,” said Lyons. “Currently, 35 percent of our admissions are COVID positive. Grant County is currently one of the highest counties in the state for positive COVID-19 tests. Our COVID positivity rate for the county is 17.8%.”

Indiana is at 75 percent “herd immunity” for exposures and vaccinations according to Bardsley and the CDC. Officials posed a goal of 70 percent in this category, which they cited as a period where COVID levels may drastically decrease. Grant County is only at 57 percent in the “herd immunity” category. Over 25,000 Grant County citizens have received a COVID vaccination.

According to Bardsley, when the pandemic began, the President released a statement that the U.S. would suffer approximately two million casualties if no precautions were taken. With the precautions and developments made since the beginning of the pandemic, this number has drastically decreased.

“We worked hard. We hunkered down. The scientific community went to work on doing things, and we are just under a million,” said Bardsley. “We lost 700,000 Americans to this. That’s significant. But, again, the first numbers were two million that we were gonna lose. So, the things that we have been doing, as uncomfortable and agitating as they are sometimes, have helped us save lives.”

Health officials hold high hopes that COVID numbers will drastically decrease by Thanksgiving in 2022, but Bardsley commented that COVID will likely not be gone by then.

“Historically, with the Spanish flu back in the 1918 series, it took 18 to 24 months before they cycled through all that and felt like they were getting back to normal,” said Bardsley. “So, we aren’t quite there yet from what we’ve experienced. We’re on track even though we’re seeing this second surge.”

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