For Martin County, COVID troubles are continuing. After more than a year of battling the disease, the virus has begun a fresh surge in the county. That surge has resulted in Martin County being declared an “orange” county under the Indiana State Department of Health map on the spread of COVID. An “orange” designation is the second highest by the state and indicates a more than moderate spread.

“We keep getting cases in waves,” said Martin County Public Health Nurse Julia Albright. “Last week we had a surge of cases and then it slowed down.”

The ISDH reports 110 cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population and a rising positivity rate of 8.14%. As of Wednesday, there had been 875 cases including one new one reported in the previous 24 hours and a total of 15 deaths since the virus appeared more than a year ago.

“One of the issues we have is that our county has such a small population that we can have one family come down with COVID and it drives our numbers up,” said Albright. “Ten cases for us is the same as 100 in some larger counties. So, if we see even a small surge, it increases quickly.”

Health officials say they have spent time working with area businesses when the COVID surges hit. Some small businesses in the community have closed briefly as a result of quarantine or close contact situations involving owners and employees.

The brief increase has also been noticed in the county’s schools.

“We have noticed some surges from time to time,” said Albright. “As the colors change from blue to yellow to orange, the way the schools handle classes and other activities also change. Graduation and other events have specific plans depending on the county’s color code.”

The county health nurse says she is uncertain as to what caused the increase in cases.

“I don’t know if people let their guard down,” said Albright. “I think they are tired of being cooped up and wanted to get out.”

Officials say roughly one-third of Indiana is immunized against COVID-19, but recently the demand for the vaccine has slowed. Martin County is following that trend.

“Our vaccination appointments have really slowed,” said Albright. “We are doing about half the vaccinations we were doing earlier.”

The slow down has led the health department to bring its vaccination efforts back to the office after holding them off-site for several weeks because of the number of people seeking them.

“We are even taking walk-ins now for vaccinations,” said Albright. “The state is really encouraging us to do that.”

With the higher numbers and the newly acquired “orange” rating the health department is encouraging people to do what they can to cut down on the spread of the disease.

“People should go ahead and get vaccinated,” said Albright. “I know a lot of our businesses are still encouraging people to wear masks and the health department encourages that as well, social distancing, hand washing. We just encourage people to take the precautions and things will eventually improve.”

Daviess County numbers go up

Not only did Martin County see an increase in the number of cases, so did Daviess County.

Daviess County recorded 11 new cases, raising the total number to 2,954 confirmed COVID infections. The county had no new deaths and the number still stands at 99.

On the ISDH map Daviess County went from a “blue” to a “yellow” status showing an increase in the spread of the infection. The weekly map indicated 110 cases per 100,000 population and a rising positivity rate of 3.75%.

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