By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – As massive COVID-19 vaccination clinics begin popping up across the state, local health officials say they are preparing, if given the chance, to host one in Kosciusko County.
Large-scale clinics have been announced for later this month at the University of Notre Dame and other locations in Indiana as the nation’s vaccine supply begins to grow significantly.
President Joe Biden announced Tuesday, March 2, that there should be enough vaccines for all adult Americans by the end of May, up two months from an earlier projection.
More and more emphasis is shifting resources from testing to vaccinating.
Kosciusko County is using the county immunization clinic at K21 Health Pavilion and four other commercial sites to administer vaccines by appointment.
The tentative plan is to use Center Lake Pavilion as a vaccination site while the fairgrounds will continue to host COVID-19 testing overseen by the Bowen Center.
“We don’t have a Yankee’s Stadium or a Staple Center, but we’re looking at the Center Lake Pavilion to accommodate that type of activity,” said Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer, who spoke at a pandemic news conference held on Wednesday, March 3, at Warsaw City Hall.
Updates and changes from the state have happened quickly and without much warning so the city and county want to be as ready as possible, he said.
“Plans are very preliminary. We’re trying to get ahead of it so if there is a need for a second clinic, we’re ready to go.”
If a large-scale vaccination clinic is approved, it will still likely require an appointment, said Teresa Reed, the communicable disease nurse with the county health department.
Reed said she was “ebullient” over the trending decline in new cases.
Officials also said a new list is being formed for homebound residents who can’t get to a clinic.
Thallemer said Indiana Homeland Security reached out to the Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory about plans to establish a registry for homebound residents seeking a vaccination.
Reed said they are working on establishing a registry and the health department’s clinic at the K21 Health Pavilion has already made some accommodations for those with mobility limitations.
As for the registry, “that program’s not quite live here,” Reed said.
Health officials provided more good news about local statistics at the news conference.
In addition to overseeing the testing site at the fairgrounds, Bowen Center is hosting a hotline to assist people with registering for a vaccine appointment, aimed at the Hispanic-speaking community and segments of the community who struggle with using a computer.
Carlson said they helped 78 people get registered. Of those, 25 were Hispanic speakers.
The hotline is available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The number is (574) 347-4256.
Carlson said about 36 people are being tested recently each day. They administered 174 tests last week.
The county has learned of only 14 positive cases in the past three days.
The 350 cases recorded in February are the fewest since September. More than 1,000 tested positive in October as the second wave began to build.
Thallemer credited Reed with her earlier prediction that the community would see a second wave, saying she was spot-on.
Both Reed and Thallemer were complimentary about how smooth the health department clinic has been operating.