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21 Country health officials speak out as we enter a December surge

Published: Dec. 1, 2021 at 6:28 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - As cases rise and the holidays pass by, there is a growing concern for COVID-19 in the months ahead.

ABC21 spoke with three health officials today to get an update on each of their counties. Those individuals are: Dr. Matthew Sutter (Allen County), Dr. Mark Souder (DeKalb County) and Dr. Matthew Pflieger (Huntington County).

“It’s very concerning going into the holidays and as we wait and see the effects of the most recent holiday weekend Thanksgiving,” Dr. Sutter told us. He adds that he is concern about the latest numbers in Allen County and the holiday surge.

“We’re in the midst of a surge now. So, we are already at a higher case rate than we were at the Delta surge before it started coming down. The hospitals are seeing a tremendous number of COVID-19 patients and accelerating over the last week.” He adds, “the hospital systems are telling me that they’re extremely concerned of the number of cases they’re seeing, especially going into cooler weather and into the holidays”.

In Huntington County, Pflieger tells us that it’s a similar situation, saying “Huntington has been consistently in the orange (on the state color map) since, I think, August... that we’ve been having really high case count and by some metrics, we’re still number one top five to case counts in the state.

“I think people understand that what’s more significant is that we still have the Delta variant and the Delta variant is a highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus. You’re able to spread that to a lot of people and so regardless of what the Omicron variant means, Delta is still here and still significant so we’re seeing a lot of people sick.”

In DeKalb County, Souder shared that it’s imperative for communities to look out for each other by getting the vaccine and a booster. Souder told ABC21, “DeKalb County currently is in the top two of the most active counties in the state of Indiana. That’s not a victory lap to share, that’s a problem. Our vaccination rate is under 50 percent. That’s also concerning”.

Now that the Omicron variant has been detected in the United States, all three doctors encourage Hoosiers to not wait. They say it you are eligible for a booster, get it now.

“It’s still affecting people significantly. It hasn’t gone away. We can’t just ignore it, just get boosted, feel good about things and move on,” Pflieger said.

“We need your help. We need to vaccinated people to get boosters and we need the unvaccinated, please get your shot. It is a lot safer to have a COVID shot than it is to have COVID by at least a hundredfold,” said Souder.

“I think we’re to the point where we can say this virus is going to be around for a long time and maybe even forever. This means that probably everyone is eventually going to get a COVID-19 infection. And if you get that you want as much protection as you can and the vaccine is the best way to take a positive action towards that,” Sutter told us.

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