Henry County — and most of the state – have turned red on the Indiana State Dept. of Health COVID-19 map.
As of Thursday, Henry County had reported 1,075 (out of 100,000) positive COVID-19 infections in the past week. The 7-day positivity rate was 19.57 percent and going up.
According to ISDH data, there were six intensive care unit (ICU) beds available Thursday out of the total 171 beds in all of District 6. Of the total occupied ICU beds, 94 of them (55 percent) are being used for patients infected with the 2019 novel coronavirus.
State data shows that the Omicron variant has become the dominant strain of the virus in and around Henry County.
The Delta variant became the predominant strain in June and remained that way for six months. Omicron first showed up in local samples on Dec. 6, 2021. Less than a month later, on Dec. 27, Omicron made up 82 percent of all local COVID-19 samples, compared to Delta’s 17 percent.
Angela Cox, administrator of the Henry County Health Department, informed the Henry County Commissioners on Wednesday that the county had again reached the red advisory level.
“Community spread is EXTREMELY high and citizens should take the appropriate precautions,” Cox reported. “Our local hospital continues to battle a surge of patients not only with COVID complications but other serious conditions being exacerbated by COVID.”
Cox said the Henry County State COVID testing site, located on North 16th Street in New Castle, conducted 748 State tests last week.
“This number is second only to a week in October 2021,” she said.
As a 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the testing site had conducted 364 State tests, with three days left for testing this week.
“All county schools are seeing an increased number of absences due positive COVID cases, as well as a variety of other respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses,” Cox’s report continued. “Local licensed day care centers are struggling to maintain enough well staff members to keep their doors open. Many of our businesses are experiencing the same and are adjusting or decreasing hours of operation.”
Cox said the Indiana Department of Health had ordered all State and Local Health Department testing sites to limit their supply of rapid antigen tests to people 18 and under or those who are over 50 and symptomatic, due to the national shortage of rapid tests.
“PCR tests are not in short supply at this time, but sites that only offered rapid testing are seeing clients shift to those conducting PCR tests,” Cox said. “This on top of an increased number of individuals with COVID symptoms is causing long lines at State testing sites to include ours.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the PCR test has been “the gold standard test” for diagnosing COVID-19 since authorized for use in February 2020.
Cox asked the Henry County community to help stop the spread of the virus.
“Please take the proper precautions,” she said. “Stay home if you are sick and do not return to school or work until you are well, get vaccinated, get tested, wash your hands, wear a mask, follow isolation and quarantine guidelines.”