Editor’s Note: The following COVID-19 update is brought to you through a collaboration of healthcare partners including Delaware County Health Department, Delaware County Emergency Management Agency, Delaware County Office of Information, and other major healthcare providers. Delaware County weekly COVID-19 updates are released every Thursday and include information from the Indiana State Department of Health county metrics dashboard, which is updated every Wednesday afternoon. Due to the holidays, this week’s update is being released one day early. There will be no update the week of Dec. 28. Updates will resume in January 2021.
Some Delaware County residents—more specifically, healthcare workers at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital—received their first round of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine last week. The vaccine has been proven to be 95% effective, according to fact sheets available on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was granted emergency use authorization from the FDA, based on data that was collected from testing and monitoring the vaccine on nearly 40,000 participants.
While some people have expressed concern over the rapidness of the vaccine distribution, Dr. Max Rudicel, chief medical officer of Open Door Health Services, explained that “fast-tracking” a vaccine does not mean shortcuts in safety.
“The risk of ‘fast-tracking’ is purely financial; it refers largely to financial investments being made by the government,” Rudicel said.
The vaccines were developed quickly yet safely, said Emily Shafer, clinical pharmacist at the Office of Clinical Integrity at Walgreens, said in an informational video on COVID-19 vaccines.
“The vaccines were tested on thousands of participants in multiple trial phases to ensure they collected sufficient data prior to approval,” Shafer said.
While the distribution of vaccines offers a glimmer of hope for a “return to normal,” health officials still warn about getting too comfortable. It’s still important to wear a mask, wash your hands and practice social distancing—even over the holidays.
“We see a light at the end of the tunnel. There is hope; we are going to make it through this. But the bottom line is we still have to go through the tunnel,” Hank Milius, CEO of Meridian Health Services said in a video statement released last week. “Even though you see a light at the end of the tunnel, make sure you put your mask on, you socially distance, you wash your hands, and enjoy the holidays from a distance.”
Heading into the holidays, Delaware County is ranked orange on the Indiana State Department of Health’s county metrics map. Orange is the second-to-worst score a county can receive, indicating moderate to high level of community spread of COVID-19. The entire state remains either orange or red (the worst score a county can receive) as we head further into the holiday season.
Since last week’s update on Dec. 17, Delaware County has reported 307 new cases and 1 new death. The county’s positivity rate is at 9.8%; the CDC suggests this number should be well under 5%.
As of Dec. 23, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital is treating 51 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 27 of which are Delaware County residents.
For more information on Delaware County’s COVID-19 total cases and deaths, as well as testing location information, visit dcema.org. Testing location hours may vary during the next few weeks due to the holidays. Additional updates on vaccine information and planning can be found on the state’s website.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will vaccines allow an immediate return to normal? What should people expect over the next few months?
We should not expect a significant impact from the vaccines anytime soon. The vaccine supply will arrive in phases and is expected to be very limited in quantity initially.
I got tested for COVID-19. Now what?
Individuals who get tested because they have symptoms should quarantine after their test until they receive their results. If the test is positive, they must continue to isolate. Isolation can end after ALL of the following have occurred:
- 10 days have passed since onset of symptoms
- If fever was a symptom, 24 hours have passed with no fever, without use of fever-reducing drugs
- Other symptoms are improving (however, loss of taste/smell may persist and does not to be factored into this requirement)
However, a person who has tested positive should follow their healthcare provider’s advice on when to end isolation.
The official recommendation for quarantine of someone identified as a close contact remains at 14 days. The CDC has recently announced options for shortening this timeframe to 10 or even possibly 7 days, if certain criteria are met. We suggest these options only be considered for use by individuals who would fall under the CDC guidelines for “Critical Infrastructure.” Employers retain the ability to, and are recommended to, require 14-day quarantine of any potentially exposed staff members. The 7- and 10-day options, in summary:
- Quarantine can end after day 10 without testing and if NO symptoms have been reported during daily
- When testing is readily available, quarantine can end as early as day 7 with a negative test result;
HOWEVER, the test can be conducted no earlier than day 5 of the quarantine period.
In either situation, after stopping quarantine, people should:
- Watch for symptoms until 14 days after exposure.
- If they have symptoms, immediately self-isolate and contact their local public health authority or healthcare provider, as well as their employer if necessary.
- Wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet from others, wash their hands, and avoid crowds.
Again, the standing recommendation for quarantine of close contacts remains at 14 days.
For more information, please visit cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine or cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/more/scientific-brief-options-to-reduce-quarantine.
What is a “close contact”?
The CDC definition of “close contact” includes the following:
- You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more, with or without masks. (This is 15 total minutes over the course of 24 hours. E.g., three five-minute periods of time throughout one day would count as close contact. )
- You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19.
- You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them).
- You shared eating or drinking utensils.
- They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you.
Should I/my child get tested for COVID-19 even if only mild cold-like symptoms, like a runny nose, are present?
Anyone experiencing symptoms of illness should isolate at home to avoid the risk of spreading illness to others. With the improved availability of testing, DCHD would further recommend testing to any such individual. Additional information concerning when you can return to work and what to do if your test is positive is available for review at cdc.gov.
If I test positive for COVID-19, how should close contacts be informed?
Anyone who tests positive should proactively seek to notify anyone they have had close contact with, as far back as 48 hours before their symptom onset. Positive individuals should also cooperate with any contact tracing calls they receive from the State, so that state contact tracers can also document and notify close contacts of their need to quarantine.
What should I do if I witness a business and/or citizen failing to comply with guidelines from the state or county?
Complaints can be lodged through the Delaware County Health Department Citizen Complaint Form, most easily available through the Delaware County Coronavirus Hub at dcema.org
Will getting a flu shot protect me from COVID-19?
While some evidence exists that the flu vaccine may help with protection against COVID-19, this vaccine should not be considered a protection against COVID-19. Instead, protection against influenza infection may prove beneficial to the population by lowering the number of flu illnesses overall and freeing up space in the healthcare system for those infected with COVID-19 or needing other healthcare.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
People who have COVID-19 may exhibit any range of these symptoms, and some may even show no symptoms at all. Symptoms may appear 2–14 days after being exposed to the virus. Some symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of taste or smell
- Sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
Anyone with these symptoms should stay home as much as possible and limit their exposure to others. Children who have any of the above symptoms should be kept home from school. For more information, read the Indiana State Department of Health’s guidelines for returning to school here.
Families with children in school can find additional information and resources at educationsupporthub.com.
What should I do if I think I might have COVID-19?
If you have any of the above symptoms or have been in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, you should immediately begin to self-quarantine to prevent spreading the disease to others. You should also call a local health clinic to arrange to be tested. Follow your doctor’s orders and continue to self-quarantine until you receive negative test results.
Children who exhibit any of the above symptoms should NOT be sent to school. If your child shows any of the listed symptoms, keep the child home in quarantine and contact your healthcare provider for further guidance. Families with children in school can find additional information and resources at educationsupporthub.com.
Where can I get tested?
Several local health clinics offer COVID-19 tests, including Meridian Health Services, Open Door Health Services, and more.
Open Door offers free community tests for individuals with or without symptoms, made available through a partnership with the Delaware County Health Department. Those who wish to get tested are encouraged to register online in advance at opendoorhs.org/testing for a quicker testing visit. For anyone unable to pre-register, on-site registration is available.
Open Door also provides neighborhood-based testing. These sites currently include the Buley Center on the second and fourth Tuesday of every month from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., as well as Avondale United Methodist Church every Thursday from 2–5 p.m. The program will continue to grow; visit opendoorhs.org/testing for additions or changes to the schedule.
For a complete list of testing locations in Delaware County, visit the Delaware County Indiana Coronavirus Hub. Be advised that some locations may test only those who exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. Testing location hours may vary during the next few weeks due to the holidays.
Staying Safe from COVID-19
To keep yourself safe from COVID-19 and to reduce the spread of the disease, wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds, wear a mask when inside public spaces and when in crowded areas, and practice social distancing.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been in contact with someone who tested positive, schedule an appointment to get tested as soon as possible. Self-quarantine until you have received negative test results. A list of testing locations can be found on the Delaware County Indiana Coronavirus hub.
Under state mandate, gatherings in Delaware County are currently limited to no more than 50 people. Events with more than 50 attendees will not be approved by the Delaware County Health Department.