Although COVID-19 hasn’t been a significant part of America’s daily discourse for a satisfying amount of time, officials with the Vigo County Health Department worry that the number of cases could rebound alarmingly as the weather cools.
“For the last two years we have been in a period of limited contact [among citizens]” said Shelby Jackson, the department’s health educator and media coordinator. “Now that schools are back, colleges are back, work is back in full swing, we’re all living in a mini petri dish where the virus is just mutating and spreading and thriving right now.”
Director of Nursing Linda Deckert reported that last week there were 28 new cases in Vigo County on Monday, with 17 on Tuesday, 12 on Wednesday, eight on Thursday and six on Friday. She noted that these numbers only come from hospitals and clinics and do not include people who have been tested.
Insurance billing specialist Robin Maurer reported that 15-20 adults a day come in for booster shots. Five children between the ages of six months and four years get the shots every week, with two to five a day among those aged 4 to 12.
Maurer noted that the Department of Health does not currently provide photos to entrants. Only recorded classes are accepted; they can be made by calling 812 462-3431.
“Most people who have had recent boosters don’t feel really bad [if they do get COVID] “It’s more like cold symptoms,” Deckert said.
Death Registry Clerk Brooke Foltz reported deaths in Vigo County at four in October, five in September and four in August. Two of them lived in other counties, but the people died in Vigo County.
“We had a guy last month whose son came from out of state and he got sick when he got here and he just died from it and his parents didn’t know he had it,” said Donna Weger, manager of the medical examiner’s office and deputy investigator.
She said that under Indiana law, “On death certificates, you cannot put COVID as the immediate cause of death on the first line of the death certificate. You have to cite it as a contributing factor.’
Weger said many people remain adamantly unwilling to get the vaccine.
“You try to do the best you can to protect yourself, but I have families come in here, they wouldn’t get vaccinated for anything,” she said of a case where a woman was vaccinated but her husband was not; the husband died.
“It’s like voting — you can vote or not vote, but if something doesn’t go well, you can’t complain,” Weger said.
Jackson and Deckert said the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is constantly updating its observations and policies regarding the virus.
While loss of smell and taste were once considered primary symptoms, Jackson noted, the primary symptoms today are sore throat (for those who received two shots) and headache (for those who received one shot).
Deckert added, “The CDC put something out about two weeks ago about lifting the mask mandate in long-term care facilities.” The conventional wisdom is that masks will be mandated again in the not-too-distant future. They are still worn in hospitals and clinics.
The approaching flu season gives more reasons for vigilance – it is recommended that patients get flu shots and boosters at the same time.
“I’m being told this is going to be the worst flu we’ve had in 10 years,” Weger said.
Jackson said: “We’re getting to the point where it’s hard to tell the difference between flu and COVID, so a lot of people will still go out if they have a runny nose or a cough and think it’s not that bad, but they’re not taking it considering others who may have weakened immune systems.
Weger used a lot of understatement when he said, “They’ve been tough years.”