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Health Official with IU Health Arnett Says Covid-19 Cases Cause For Concern Heading Into The Fall

Purdue's campus (WBAA News/Ben Thorp)

State health officials last weekraised concerns about a jump in COVID-19 cases related to the Delta variant. 

Now, local officials are raising similar concerns noting the danger variants will pose heading into the fall. 

Dr. Jim Bien is the Chief Medical Officer for IU Health Arnett. 

“I’m delighted that I can go to the Aviators game and enjoy a beer and a hotdog outside with other people but I’m concerned that we are at risk of things expanding again,” he said.

The seven day all test positivity rate in Tippecanoe County is currently 3%. In the surrounding counties of Clinton, Montgomery, and Fountain that number is above 5%. 

And in Warren County the seven-day all test positivity rate is currently over 10%. 

Also at last week’s state COVID-19 health briefing, state health officials underlined that decisions about COVID-19 health restrictions moving into the next school year will be handled at the local level.

Purdue University has announced that it plans to return to normal operations starting in the fall.

According to trustees, that includes bringing classrooms and sports events back to full capacity. 

Dr. Bien said he’s glad the university has not yet made a final determination on masking in classrooms. The university has said it will base that decision on the number of the campus community who are vaccinated. 

“Hopefully the plan they have in place will minimize spread within their community and therefore make them less of a contributor of the disease throughout the county,” Bien said.

Purdue officials have not been able to provide hard numbers on how much of the campus community is currently vaccinated. A spokesperson for the university said they expect to have an update in “mid-July.”

Both the Lafayette and Tippecanoe County school corporations have announced they will not require masks in classrooms this fall. The West Lafayette School Corporation has released a draft plan indicating it will continue to require masks in grades K-6, because those students can’t currently get vaccinated. 

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story indicated the West Lafayette School Corporation planned to require masks for grades K-6. That plan is only a draft at this time and will need to be approved by the school board.