By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – After some 14 months and 117 local deaths from COVID-19, health experts expressed confidence that the worst part of the pandemic has passed.
A slight bump in cases seen a few weeks ago is back on the decline and a recent eruption of cases in Michigan that gained national attention has faded and apparently never made much of an impact in northern Indiana, according to county health officer Dr. William Remington.
He also pointed to a decline in hospitalizations in the region as an important indicator.
“I would be shocked if we have a huge surge in the future with what we know of COVID today,” Remington said. “I think we have an opportunity to be closer back to normal here in a short period of time.”
Teresa Reed, the county’s communicable disease nurse, sounded equally optimistic, adding, “I’m really pleased with how things are going.”
Signs of the pandemic receding locally are numerous as more than 19,000 county residents are now fully vaccinated and the positivity rate again declines to 3.7%.
The improving positivity rate, if it continues, means the county will move into the blue category later this month, joining a growing number of counties that are not under any warning level from the Indiana Department of Health.
Remington said he was thankful that those most vulnerable to the disease were willing to be quickly immunized for the most part.
“I just felt the weight come off my shoulders a bit as a public health thinker,” he said.
With less than two weeks left in the school year, there are also signs of a return to normalcy in the classroom.
Warsaw Community Schools Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert said the school year is ending with plenty of traditional activities including prom, which will be outside at the fairgrounds Saturday, May 17.
“We’re looking forward to a great summer. We’re looking for more normalcy every single day. We expect that to be the case as we head into the next school year,” said Hoffert.
In another development, the CDC announced on Wednesday the approval of Pfizer’s vaccine for youths 12-16.
Remington said he hopes families have discussions and consider children being vaccinated.
He said he won’t be mandating or ramrodding the idea of vaccinating children even though he’s “a big vaccine guy.”
Remington also commented on the most recent government report recapping research on adverse vaccine reactions.
According to the government, more than 259 million doses of COVID vaccines have been administered in the U.S.
According to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, 4,434 people who have had the vaccine have reportedly died.
Remington was quick to point out that that represents 0.0017% of vaccines administered and that it does not mean they died as a result of the vaccine.
The reporting system allows anyone who has had the vaccine to report any adverse effects.
CDC has been unable to find a direct causality in a systemic way, he said.
“I feel the vaccines are safe. I feel these are probably associations without clear causations to the vaccine,” Remington said.
Possibly the most interesting fact that surfaced Wednesday was the news that 11 people in the county who were vaccinated then tested positive for COVID.
Reed classified those as “breakthrough cases” and said the county will continue to track the issue.
Of those 11, four were asymptomatic. The age range was 21-86 with the average age being 58.
Three were hospitalized, including one with respiratory issues.