Dec. 29—ANDERSON — On Wednesday, Madison County was bumped from an orange COVID-19 advisory level to red by the Indiana State Department of Health.
The state health department bases these advisory levels on a county's seven-day average of positive cases and the rate of cases per 100,000 people.
Madison County has a seven-day positivity rate of 16.3%, with an average of 121 cases.
Stephenie Mellinger, administrator for the Madison County Health Department, said it will take the county a few weeks to get out of the "red" advisory level.
"It took awhile for us to get red (so) it's going to take us a little while to get out of the red," she said.
For those with New Year's plans this weekend, Mellinger said canceling plans is not necessary.
"If you can get tested before you head out to any big event, by all means, do it," she said.
While rapid tests are hard to come by, Mellinger noted that PCR tests are more accurate for those who are not showing symptoms.
While it can take up to 3 days for PCR results to be returned, some have seen results in as little as 24 hours.
Mellinger also urges people to take extra precautions during their holiday gatherings — be mindful of social distancing, wear a mask and practice proper and frequent handwashing.
"Just remember all of those same tools that we've been using for the past two years. They still work, if we use them," Mellinger said.
Additionally, she said that people who are unvaccinated should consider getting vaccinated, as vaccination "prevents disease severity."
Those that are unvaccinated are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, being hospitalized or dying, Mellinger said.
Since the start of the pandemic, Madison County has had 23,604 reported cases of COVID-19. There have been 493 COVID-19 deaths in the county.
It is unknown if these new cases are caused by the Omicron variant or not.
On Dec. 20, Mellinger received a report detailing the dominant variants in Madison County. As of then, the Delta variant was leading cases, with the Alpha variant close behind.
Mellinger has not received an updated report since. She said the reports used to come in weekly, however they have become less frequent now.
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