The variant places the area in riskier territory | Local

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Most counties in northeast Indiana qualify for high or substantial level of COVID-19 transmission – levels at which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now recommends that people wear masks indoors vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Allen County – along with Adams, DeKalb, Huntington, Noble, Wabash and Whitley counties – are at a high level. Kosciusko, Steuben and Wells County are experiencing significant spread.

Only LaGrange County is at the yellow or moderate level, as cases across the region are increasing.

Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter urges county residents to follow CDC recommendations.

“Allen County does not have specific guidelines (wearing a mask),” he wrote in an email to the Journal Gazette. “CDC guidelines recommend universal masking for areas of high community transmission when collecting indoors, and their current data indicates that Allen County is in this high category.

“We recommend that everyone follow CDC guidelines and wear a mask at indoor gatherings, regardless of immunization status, as Allen County experiences a high level of community transmission.”

Officials do not intend, Sutter said, to implement local restrictions. But that could change “if the situation worsens,” he said, adding that he continues to monitor local, regional and national conditions.

Indoor locations include workplaces, and many employers, including the General Motors plant in Fort Wayne, now require masks. The demand begins today, according to a statement from the United Auto Workers, the factory’s union.

The COVID-19 Joint Task Force, made up of UAW, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, has determined that staff will need to wear masks in all factories, offices and warehouses, regardless of vaccination status, to effective August 4, “the statement said.

“After reviewing the recently amended CDC guidelines and trends in the COVID-19 community, (we) decided it was best for worker safety to resume wearing masks at all work sites.”

About 4,400 people work at the local plant, the second-largest in the region, according to Greater Fort Wayne, an economic development group.

The CDC’s assessment comes as the daily number of new cases in Allen County rose to triple digits on Tuesday for the first time since early May.

Allen County reported 114 cases on Tuesday and two deaths, bringing the total to 43,664 cases and 701 deaths. New cases haven’t been in triple digits since May 2, when county health officials reported 100 new cases.

The state also surpassed 1,000 new cases on Tuesday for the sixth time in seven days. 1,610 additional cases have been reported, as well as 13 additional deaths. The total of new cases on Tuesday was the highest in nearly six months.

State totals are 775,686 cases and 13,596 confirmed deaths, plus 429 suspected deaths without a positive test.

According to the Indiana Department of Health, the delta variant of the virus – now considered to be more contagious and potentially the cause of more serious illness – affects the majority of Hoosiers.

Delta is now present in 87.7% of state samples tested for variants, up from 31.6% four weeks ago. The state does not test every sample positive for the delta, but a selection of them are tested in various parts of the state.

The state does not publicly report the number of variants by county. However, Sutter said as of July 30, the delta variant had been found in 51 cases in Allen County, but it is not known how many have been tested for it.

With the growing number of cases in Allen County, hospitalizations in District 3 of the state in northeast Indiana are also increasing. The state health department reported 113 confirmed and suspected COVID-19 patients on Monday.

District hospitalizations, which typically delay cases by about two weeks, have been on a general rise since the last week of June. The number of hospitalized patients is now at about the level of the first week of February, when the number of patients was declining.

District 3 had 22.5% of its 315 intensive care unit beds available on Monday and 13.5% of beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. Only 4.5% of the district’s 269 ventilators were used for COVID-19 patients.

“We strongly encourage anyone who is unvaccinated but eligible to make an appointment to be vaccinated,” Sutter said. “Vaccines are safe and still very effective in preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death from the contagious delta variant of COVID-19. “

Allen County had 159,773 fully vaccinated residents on Tuesday, or 50.7% of eligible residents.

Those wishing to make an appointment can register at www.coronavirus.in.gov/vaccine/ or call 211. Many sites also accept walk-in tours and local pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, offer also vaccinations.

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