Marion County health officials exploring if and when more restrictions will be needed

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — Dr. Virginia Caine says her team with the Marion County Public Health Department is working on a way to measure if and when more restrictions will be needed in the county.

“When we went to restrictions last year, we were at a positivity [rate] over 10%. We were looking at 11% positivity. So we’re not there yet,” said Dr. Caine. “But this is a different virus. So we may have to consider at a lower positivity measure than we used last year.”

Dr. Caine said her team is looking at what those metrics would be now.

This comes just one day after MCPHD joined the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in recommending all fully vaccinated Americans wear masks when indoors. The CDC said the new guidance is especially important for those living in an area with “substantial or high transmission.”

Based on the CDC’s color-coded map, Marion County is listed in orange, meaning there have been 50-99.99 total new cases per 100,000 persons in the past seven days.

“I think the reality is that we could be back where we were before unless this community takes on a greater responsibility of getting more people vaccinated,” said Dr. Caine.

While specific to indoor gatherings, the CDC’s new guidance comes just days before one of the largest outdoor events in Marion County — the Indiana State Fair.

In that case, Dr. Caine said she would extend the CDC’s recommendation to large outdoor events as well.

“I think if there’s a large number of folks attending, and you think that you can’t do the social distancing of at least three feet from other individuals, I think you have to — especially if you have an underlying health issue — I think you need to be masked outdoors,” said Dr. Caine.

According to Communications Director of Indiana State Fairgrounds Sharon Smith, masks will not be required for any fairgoers regardless of vaccination status.

“If you are fully vaccinated, you will not be required to wear a mask,” explained Smith. “However, if you’re not fully vaccinated, we do encourage you to follow current CDC guidelines when it comes to face coverings.”

Smith said during a typical year, a total of 890,000 people come to Marion County for the state fair. With those crowds in mind, Smith said there will be various safety precautions in place.

Free COVID vaccinations along with other catch-up vaccines will be available by IU Health and the Indiana State Department of Health at this year’s state fair. Smith said this vaccination clinic is offered daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Hoosier Lottery Expo Hall.

“Whether we want to see a surge that’s going to continue to be significant will depend on our ability to have our community get vaccinated,” said Dr. Caine. “Don’t wait! You can’t get vaccinated at that time where you’re sick and you’re being admitted for COVID-19.”

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