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.
For the first time, Delaware County is blue on the Indiana State Department of Health’s county metrics map. The county’s advisory level remains yellow until it ranks blue for two weeks in a row. Under yellow advisory, Delaware County events may operate with up to 100 socially distanced and masked individuals. If Delaware County were to move to a blue advisory next week, events would allow for up to 250 people. Mask use and social distancing requirements remain in place for both advisorylevels.
Across the state, 39 counties are blue, 50 are yellow, and just 3 are orange.
Since the last county-wide COVID-19 update on Feb. 18, Delaware County has reported 66 new cases— the lowest number of new cases in a 7-day period since these weekly updates began in August—and 2 new deaths. The county’s positivity rate is at 3.1%; the CDC suggests this number should be well under 5%. As of Feb. 25, IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital is treating 9 confirmed cases.
The general improvement in case numbers is reflected in larger institutions across Muncie and Delaware County too. According to the university’s COVID-19 Dashboard, there are an estimated 17 positive cases at Ball State University. And, this week, Muncie Community Schools reported 0 active cases district-wide.
“We have seen a tremendous slowdown in new cases the past couple of weeks, which is very exciting,” said MCS Director of Public Education/CEO Lee Ann Kwiatkowski. “We will continue to stay vigilant with our safety protocols, but it’s wonderful to know that we don’t currently have anyone in MCS in quarantine or who has tested positive.”
Remaining vigilant with COVID-19 precautions is key to keeping the virus at bay, health officials say, especially with new strains of the virus circulating. These practices apply even to those who have been vaccinated, as it may take some time to fully develop immunization and it is not yet known whether a vaccinated individual can still spread the virus.
According to the Indiana COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, 9,134 individuals in Delaware County are fully vaccinated. With there having been 9,815 total positive cases of COVID-19 in Delaware County since March 2020, this means the county has vaccinated 93% as many people as there have been total cases since the pandemic first appeared locally.
On Wednesday this week, the FDA said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine—which requires just one dose instead of two, like the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines currently in use—is safe and “offers strong protection against severe COVID-19,” according to the Associated Press. The FDA will meet in the coming days todetermine whether the vaccine is approved for emergency use.
For additional updates on vaccine information in Delaware County, visit OurShotDelawareCounty.org.
For those who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine, health officials encourage continued diligence on testing and quarantining. Both rapid and standard tests are available throughout the county. For more information on testing locations andcase numbers in Delaware County, visit dcema.org.
Frequently Asked Questions
How effective is the COVID-19 vaccine?
There are currently two vaccines approved for emergency use in the Unites States: the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine. In clinical trials, the Pfizer vaccine was proven to be 95% effective in preventing COVID-19, and the Moderna vaccine 94.1% effective. However, all vaccines were shown to be 100% effective in preventing serious illness from COVID-19 that resulted in hospitalization or death.
How do I get vaccinated for COVID-19?
As of Feb. 23, Indiana residents age 60 and older, as well as healthcare workers and first-responders, are eligible to receivetheir COVID-19 vaccination. There is no charge for the vaccination.
Individuals can schedule online or by phone. To schedule online:
- Visit IN.gov and follow the instructions to find a vaccine site.
- The site will ask questions to make sure you meet criteria.
- A map will display vaccination sites closest to you.
- Choose a site and register for a date and time.
To schedule by phone:
- For those unable to register online, call 211 to register by phone. The call center is open daily from 8 a.m.–9 p.m.
Other notes of importance:
- Registering another individual on their behalf is permitted.
- Transportation assistance can be requested by calling 211.
- Citizenship is not required for vaccination, and citizenship information is not collected.
- Photo ID may be required at the time of vaccination.
Local vaccination information can be found at OurShotDelawareCounty.org.
How will I know when I become eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?
Those who are eligible for the vaccine will be notified via postal mail from the state, as well as through additional communications efforts. Eligibility information will also be shared online at ourshot.IN.gov as updates become available.
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 isexpected 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 suggestthese 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 monitoring.
- 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 availablethrough 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 withCOVID-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’sguidelines 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-quarantineuntil 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 required to register online in advance at opendoorhs.org/testing. These tests are available at Open Door’s 333 S. Madison Street location and at Worthen Arena at Ball State University. Open Door also offers rapid tests during patient visits; non-Open Door patients can receive a rapid test at Open Door Urgent Care on E. 29th Street.
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 foundon the Delaware County Indiana Coronavirus hub.
In accordance with the Governor’s latest Executive Order, events can now occur with attendance potentially as high as 50% of a venue’s capacity or up to 100 people, following submission of an event safety plan to the local health department and subsequent approval. Mask use and distancing requirements remain.