Local health officials have warned of adverse mental health effects, holiday event risks and potential increased community spread during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially as weather cools and residents will be spending more time indoors.
As of Oct. 15, The Boone County Health Department had reported 1,228 positive COVID-19 cases and 53 deaths, including the first two deaths attributed to the disease since late July, both of which were related to long-term care facilities, according to the BCHD. In the week ending in Oct. 9, the BCHD reported a countywide positivity rate of 4.44 percent and 66 new cases. The week prior, 43 new cases were reported.
The Indiana State Dept. of Health reported Boone County had a seven-day positivity rate of 5.19 percent as of Oct. 15. It also reported the county had 104 positive COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents. The two metrics, accompanied with a positivity rate increase, moved the county into the state department’s yellow classification, which denotes counties exhibiting the second-lowest risk rate. Previously, Boone County was given a blue classification, the ISDH’s lowest risk classification. Orange and red classifications are given to higher risk counties.
The uptick in cases and an increased positivity rate are symptoms of a larger community spread seen across most of Indiana, where cases have reached record highs. Boone County Health Dept. Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Tom Ryan said the most important message for Hoosiers is to continue to practice mitigation efforts that have been proven to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
“The important thing right now is that everyone does everything they can to protect themselves – social distancing, washing their hands, wearing a face covering, avoiding large groups and poorly ventilated areas.” Ryan said. “With all the practices we are doing right now, it might make it hard for people. I just want them to know that we do have places for them to turn to get help if they need help.”
Mental Health America of Boone County, Integrative Wellness, LLC, Aspire Indiana Health and Cummins Behavior Health Systems, Inc. all offer mental health resources to Boone County residents. For more information about their services, visit mhaboonecounty.org, inwell.org, aspireindiana.org and cumminsbhs.org, respectively.
And though the BCHD has decided not canceled any Halloween-related festivities, Ryan cautioned residents to adhere to CDC guidelines that have listed typical events during the holiday that present less of a risk of contracting the virus. The guidelines can be viewed here.