County still in red: Free COVID-19 vaccination, testing clinic starts this week

This week there will be a free COVID-19 vaccine and testing clinic at the Brown County Fairgrounds as the county remains one of 11 counties in the “red” status for COVID-19 spread.

As of Nov. 22 the county remained in the “red” on the Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 spread map, which monitors weekly cases per 100,000 residents and seven day positivity rate from all tests.

The drive-thru clinic will be Dec. 1 to 4 from noon to 8 p.m. each day at the fairgrounds, 802 Memorial Drive. Vaccines will be available for residents 5 years and older. Booster doses or initial doses of either the Moderna, Pfizer or Johnson and Johnson vaccine will be available.

The vaccines and tests are free. No appointment is required. The clinic is being coordinated by the Brown County Health Department with ISDH.

From Nov. 17 to 23, the county reported an additional 37 cases and one additional death related to COVID-19. The state COVID-19 dashboard was not updated over the long holiday weekend.

On Nov. 17 the county was moved to the “red” status on the spread map, which is the highest of four statuses, and was one of six counties to be placed in that status. When the county was moved to “red” an additional 75 positive cases had been reported from Nov. 10 to 17. The county had been at the “orange” status on the spread map for about three weeks.

At the Nov. 17 Brown County Commissioners meeting, the county’s Emergency Health Preparedness Coordinator Corey Frost said the county was running at about a 19 percent positivity rate.

The county had reported an average of five to eight positive tests each day out of around 50 daily tests that had been administered by either the health department, the Brown County Health and Wellness Clinic and CVS, Frost said.

“We’re high,” he said of positive cases.

“Our most effective tool out of this is still the vaccine.”

The commissioners did not issue any additional mandates as a result of the county being moved to red on the spread map at the Nov. 17 meeting. This summer the commissioners issued a statement in favor of personal choice and common sense as far as new COVID-19 mandates go at the local level. The Nashville Town Council affirmed that stance around the same time.

Commissioner Diana Biddle said that the county is still not back where it was a year ago when looking at positive cases here.

“It looks like six positive cases, they are running a moving average of about 10 positives each day,” she said.

Frost said that most positive cases are unvaccinated residents.

“We see one or two a month that are breakthrough cases,” he said of those who are vaccinated testing positive.

“We’re starting to really see the efficacy of the vaccine the first round. We’re pushing the boosters a lot. … We don’t see too many breakthrough cases.”

A booster dose of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines is now available to any resident 18 and older who received their second dose at least six months ago. Those who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine are eligible for a booster shot two months or more after their initial dose.

Residents can also choose which booster they want to receive, so if they received two doses of Moderna they could pick a Pfizer booster, according to ISDH.

Last week, Frost encouraged residents to follow health guidelines and monitor themselves for symptoms.

“As we enjoy our time together with friends and family throughout the holiday season, it is important to continue to monitor yourself for symptoms and take standard precautions such as avoiding large crowds, good hygiene including hand washing and proper mask use,” he said.

”These tools along with getting vaccinated continue to be the most effective way to avoid exposure and a serious course of illness from a COVID-19 infection.”

Last week, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced he was extending the statewide COVID-19 public health emergency order into the new year. It had been set to expire on Dec. 1.

In November world health officials reported another COVID-19 variant called omicron. The variant had been detected in Canada as of Nov. 29.