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Tippecanoe County Moves Into the Red As COVID-19 Test Positivity Spikes

Ben Thorp

The Tippecanoe County Health Department offered updates on Wednesday as the county moved into the red on the state’s COVID-19 advisory map for the first time. 

The county turned red after its percent positivity rate - the number of COVID-19 tests coming back positive - hit its highest point since the start of the pandemic. 

Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler says the red designation puts caps on gatherings of more than 25 people.  

“Community recreational sports leagues and tournaments may continue but are limited to participants, support personnel, parents and guardians and their minor children,” he said. “All businesses must adhere to strict social distancing guidelines and curbside pickup is preferred. Senior center activities are suspended.”

The restrictions will remain in place until the county’s all-test positivity rate falls below ten percent for more than 14 days. 

Dr. Adler said another surge is expected later this month as a result of holiday travel. 

Vaccinations are moving forward, but health officials warned that it will still be a long time before the county reaches herd immunity. 

As of Wednesday, 190 residents over the age of 80 have been vaccinated, with a total of 4,853 county residents receiving a vaccine. Most of those people have only received their first dose. 

Dr. Adler said it is estimated that 70% of the population will need to be vaccinated before achieving herd immunity. 

“When you think about 70% just in our population here in the county, that’s a lot of people,” he said. “It’s going to take a long time to get everyone vaccinated to get to that 70% point.”

The state also announced on Wednesday that residents 70 and older are now eligible to get vaccinated. 

Some local health officials worry the state is expanding vaccinations too quickly and the department still hasn’t had time to vaccinate enough residents 80 and older.

“There are still a lot of (age) 80-plus who will not be able to get an appointment because we have no appointments left for our clinic,” said Khala Hochstedler, administrator for the Tippecanoe County Health Department. “You added a whole ‘nother decade of people who are going to be very frustrated that they cannot make an appointment. We still haven’t addressed how we’re going to get the (age) 80-plus an appointment to get a dose in their arm.”

Hochstedler said appointments for their clinic are booked up for the next three weeks. 

She said residents can book an appointment at other clinics, but will need to return to that clinic when it is time to receive their second dose.