Fountain and Warren counties

Dr. Sean P. Sharma, MD, health officer for the Fountain & Warren County Health Department, recently provided a bi-county COVID-19 update as of Jan. 22.

He said the bi-county deaths from COVID-19 total 102, with 11 being in the last 30 days and 23 being in the last 60 days.

“The COVID-19 death rate/100,000 residents by county shows Fountain County to have one of the highest death rates in the state – top 5,” he wrote.

“Hospitalizations from COVID -19 are at an all-time high. The data below show statewide hospitalizations. Local data is not available. Regional hospitalizations in our area show trends similar to the state as a whole.”

At the time of the report, he said Fountain County had the highest COVID-19 cast rate in the state.

“Vaccination rates in Fountain & Warren County continue to lag the state and national average,” he wrote.

“Fountain County is 41.8% and Warren County is 45.4% fully vaccinated for ages 5+. The statewide rate is currently at 60.0%,” he said.

Vaccination rate by zip code for ages 5+ (highest populations only presented from highest to lowest) are:

47975 — Pine Village: 58.8

47918 — Attica: 48.9

47993 — Williamsport: 46.3

47991 — West Lebanon: 45.0

47932 — Covington: 39.2

47987 — Veedersburg: 33.4

47952 — Kingman: 30.4

“Vaccines continue to show significant protection against severe COVID-19 protecting against death and hospitalization. The vaccines for COVID-19 have been shown to be very safe. The vaccinations preferred by FW Health are the Pfizer and Moderna two dose vaccines,” Sharma said.

He said hospitalization rates for the unvaccinated, fully vaccinated and boosted show different statuses.

“Completion of the primary vaccine series shows significant protection from hospitalization, with boosters showing even more benefit. The down trend at the right side of this curve reflects incomplete preliminary data. As previously shown,

hospitalizations have continued to increase significantly throughout January 2022.”

He said testing for COVID-19 continues every day at the Fountain Warren Health Department except Sundays and every other Saturday.

“Rapid tests are in very limited supplies and are currently unavailable. When available they may be restricted to those most likely to benefit from early case identification (those eligible for COVID-19 therapeutics). PCR Testing is available on weekdays and every other Saturday at the Health Departments.

“Appointments are preferred, but walk ins may be accepted pending

supplies.

“Testing is also available at Ascension North and South Clinic, and through the Williamsport Emergency Room. Local CVS pharmacies have COVID-19 Testing resources as well. Additional mobile testing and vaccination sites are being offered periodically by FW Health in cooperation with ISDH and the Indiana National Guard.

“Free rapid tests are available for every household. These can be ordered online at COVIDTests.gov. The application process takes less than one minute and is free.”

“Vaccines remain our number one protection against COVID-19 . Vaccinations continue at the health department on Wednesdays and some Saturdays. All vaccines available including first doses, second doses, third doses, boosters, and pediatric doses. Appointments are preferred, but walk-ins may be accepted pending supplies,” Sharma said.

“Vaccines are available at Ascension North and South Clinic, facilitated by FW Health. Local pharmacies have COVID-19 Vaccines as well.

“Additional mobile testing and vaccination sites are being offered periodically by FW Health in cooperation with ISDH and the Indiana National Guard.

“In addition to getting vaccinated, staying home if you are sick or exposed, and getting tested, several other actions can continue to help protect you and our community from COVID-19,” he said.

“Masking continues to be protective. The Omicron variant is more transmissible, and n95 masks have shown to be the most effective, but any appropriately worn mask will offer some protection.

Washing your hands, social distancing, and avoiding crowded indoor places are other layers of protection that can help to prevent infection.”

Sharma had advice for schools, which includes reviewing the school webinar slides from Jan. 20, which he provided.

He summarized that information.

He started with testing:

“Any positive test should be treated as a positive result regardless of test type (home, PCR, Antigen).

Antibody tests are not useful or recommended.

“Testing at your school is possible. If you are interested, please enroll. Our staff at FW Health may be able to help facilitate this process depending on demand. Details at: Openandsafeschools.org.”

He also spoke about vaccinations:

“Booster doses are now recommended for those ages 12+ who are 5 months out from their second dose.

Third doses are recommended for those 5+ who are immunocompromised.

“Please familiarize yourself with these terms and do your best to use them appropriately to ensure accurate

conversations and advice.

“Fully vaccinated: must be 2 weeks (14 days) out from last dose of primary vaccine series.

Up to date: a fully vaccinated individual who has also gotten a booster dose or third dose as appropriate. Those18 years and older need their booster to avoid quarantine. Those12-17 years of age, encourage booster as soon as eligible. (May still avoid quarantine if a close contact, asymptomatic, and at least 2 weeks out from their primary Pfizer vaccine series). Those not fully vaccinated: less than 2 weeks out from last dose of a primary vaccine series or have not received all primary doses,” he said.

“Not up to date: no additional or booster doses if recommended/eligible. Isolate: when you are sick or when you have been infected with COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms. Quarantine: when you might have been exposed to the virus.”

He also provided isolation and quarantine guidance.

“These are explained in detail in the attached slides. Keep these for your reference. Please note the distinctions made based on test results, exposure site (at school or outside of school), vaccination status, and school masking status.

“These guidelines are the minimum acceptable standards according to ISDH. Schools may have more restrictive policies, but are not allowed to have less restrictive policies per Indiana Code (IC 16-41-2-1). If your school has questions, please reach out to our office.

“For those returning earlier than 10 days from isolation or quarantine, masking is required at all times. Reasonable exceptions are allowed with eating or drinking, but not for sports or extracurricular activities.

“N95 masks are preferred and provide the most protection against Omicron. For medical personnel these are

recommended to be used for the months of January and February (at least).”

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