More and more Grant County residents are receiving COVID-19 vaccinations every day, but the county still remains in the red zone of the state’s color-coded metrics.
According to Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) data, 1,754 individuals in Grant County have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while 382 received both doses and are fully vaccinated. Statewide, 219,885 Hoosiers have received a first dose while 40,281 are fully vaccinated.
Health officer Dr. William David Moore said after some missteps in the initial rollout of the vaccine across the country, things are operating more smoothly now. Marion General Hospital and the Grant County Health Department continue to vaccinate eligible health care workers, first responders and county residents 70 and older daily.
“I’m very proud to be a part of this,” Moore said. “After some stumbles and other things of getting it off the ground, it’s come together well with committed people making a competent, conscientious job to take care of one another.”
Moore said the hospital has improved its efficiency and has begun to vaccinate more than 300 people per day, while the health department’s smaller operation is vaccinating approximately 40 people per day. He urged patience for those waiting to be eligible for the vaccine as supply and state guidelines continue to expand to greater numbers of people.
“As you move down by each five-year category, the number of people in those categories is going to explode,” Moore said. “[When] you get to 70 or 65 (years old), there’s I think something like 13,000 persons in Grant County who fit that category. ... I don’t want to overstate it, but we’ll be able to expand that I think pretty soon. It’s going pretty well.”
Eligible Hoosiers can schedule their first vaccination appointment by calling 211 or visiting www.ourshot.in.gov and should bring a valid ID and insurance card to the vaccination appointment. The second-dose vaccination appointment will be scheduled at the first appointment.
Moore stressed that vaccinations in Grant County are currently by appointment only, and neither MGH or the health department is a walk-in center.
“The health department, with our limited resources, does not have the capacity to manage that, but also the state has given some pretty strict guidelines for who is eligible to receive them and their prioritization,” Moore said. “And these come from the federal and state government to us at no cost. We have to handle that respectfully or we may lose access to it. So we really want to follow the rules and follow the directions we’ve been given by the state health department.”
Meanwhile, Grant County is one of 73 counties currently in the red zone representing the highest level of community spread through new cases and positivity rate of those tested. The remaining 19 Indiana counties are in the orange zone, the second-highest level.
Commissioner Mark Bardsley said it has now been more than 300 days since the county Emergency Operations Center was activated for COVID. While recent data has shown lower numbers of daily case counts, he said it is expected that the county will remain in the red for at least two to three more weeks.
“We’ve seen a small decline in the amount of positive cases,” he said. “But again I don’t want that to be a misleading kind of statement, because until we actually have lower statistics for a two-week period that gets us into the orange category we’re still going to be in the red category.”
Even as vaccinations continue, Bardsley stressed COVID-19 is not going away quickly and remains highly contagious and potentially deadly. He noted Grant County has 108 reported COVID deaths, while last year the whole state of Indiana reported 185 flu deaths.
“We want to reinforce that we’re not done with this. We’re talking weeks on weeks yet,” he said. “And really the state probably only has about 2 percent of the population that’s received vaccines so far, and we’re at 10 percent of herd immunity through sickness and being infected. So we still have to go 60-plus percent to get to the herd immunity that says we can handle it in our community.”
Individuals should continue to isolate or quarantine if infected or exposed to COVID-19, wear a mask in public, wash hands regularly, social distance at least 6 feet apart from others and follow all other health guidelines.