Vigo COVID-19 chart

COVID-19 figures continue to surge in Vigo County.

The number of new cases has begun to double in Vigo County, and that is startling to health officials and is prompting renewed warnings to socially distance, isolate when ill and to limit travel.

“The hot spots we continue to see [are] spread within families and households, events, and some of the churches we have mentioned,” said Roni Elder, health educator for the Vigo County Health Department.

A chart posted on the county health department’s Facebook page on Wednesday shows 1,033 community cases occurred the week of Nov. 8 to 14. The week prior, community cases numbered 529. And for Oct. 25 to 31, cases numbered 323.

“Last week was another big week for new COVID-19 cases,” the Vigo department’s Facebook post said. “These are not the numbers we want to see going into the holiday season when many people travel and gather with those outside their households.”

On Wednesday, Vigo County added 95 new cases of COVID-19 for a total of 5,087 cases with a total of 69 deaths in the daily update from state health officials.

“At this time the VCHD is discouraging any group gatherings. If you do choose to be around individuals outside of your household wear a mask, stay at least 6 feet apart, wash your hands, and stay home if you have any COVID-19 symptoms,” the Facebook post concluded.

On the city’s southwest side, the inmate cases of COVID-19 have been rising at the Federal Correctional Institution. On Wednesday, 60 inmates and 12 FCI staff were positive for COVID-19. Last week, fewer than 30 inmates had tested positive.

At the U.S. Penitentiary, or the maximum security arm of the prison, only three inmate cases and one staff case were reported on Wednesday.

The prison cases are updated daily.

Elsewhere in Wabash Valley

Other Wabash Valley communities are also reporting new cases and are using social media to warn the public about actions to take when household members test positive.

“If you are COVID-19 positive, begin isolating yourself immediately from the rest of the household. We are seeing tremendous spread within families,” Parke County health nurse Cindy Watson said in a Facebook post.

“Isolation means, to the extent possible, the patient with COVID-19 sleeps and stays in a separate bedroom and use a different bathroom from the rest of the household. Any time they would leave the room, they should wear a mask,” Watson said. “Other household members should be wearing masks as well. Keep these times brief and the COVID-19 positive patient should be socially distancing from other household members. High touch items and surface areas should be cleaned and sanitized frequently.”

On Wednesday, Parke County added 19 cases for a total of 442. Clay County added 16 cases for a total of 908. Vermillion County added eight cases for a total of 478. Sullivan County added 26 cases for a total of 733.

Also this week, Sullivan County was flagged as a “red” county on the state metrics map. Clay County and Sullivan County are now therefore in the red category, while the remaining counties of the Wabash Valley are in the orange, or second-highest alert, category.

The Indiana Department of Health announced Wednesday that 6,143 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19. A total of 4,830 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19.

VCSC update

Also Wednesday, the Vigo County School Corporation updated its COVID-19 dashboard, which is available at vigoschools.org.

Four of the district’s 27 brick and mortar schools have no active cases at this time.

The updated dashboard shows:

• 70 student positives with campus contact in the last 14 days (up from 59 last week)

• 38 staff positives with campus contact in the last 14 days (up from 25 last week)

• 883 students actively quarantined (up from 768 last week)

• 114 staff actively quarantined (up from 99 last week)

The district also released information about active positive cases and active quarantines, information which is used internally and by the COVID-19 Task Force to make decisions.

These numbers tally cases and quarantines regardless of whether the person was on campus during their infectious period.

The additional data also shows 53 active cases at the elementary level, 26 active cases at the middle school level, and 31 active cases at the high school level, when combining student and staff cases.

The district will continue to monitor cases among students and staff during remote learning to provide data. As all students move to remote learning, families will continue to be notified of cases that were in contact with schools during that person’s infectious period.

The district says a lag in notification does not necessarily mean a lag in quarantine or isolation. It can sometimes happen because a person was tested and had to wait several days for the results of a test.

All VCSC schools will go on remote learning beginning Thursday, with Dec. 7 being the earliest likely return date.

Bill Riley, the district’s communications director, said VCSC will deploy 136 WiFi-enabled buses daily to help provide access to students who might otherwise have a hard time getting online.

The WiFi bus units were purchased by the Vigo County Education Foundation, the United Way/Wabash Valley Community Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund, a few other donors and by the school corporation.

— Mark Fitton of the Tribune-Star also contributed to this report.

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Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.

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