By Ron Allen
Putnam County has bounced from yellow to gold to orange on the DHHR COVID-Alert Map in the seven days ending on February 23. The shift from yellow to orange would seem to indicate that the presence of the coronavirus in the county is on the increase. That most certainly is not the case.
Putnam’s coloration on the map is based upon the percentage of tests which reveal an infection. During the most recent seven day period, 1,694 tests were performed, a decrease of 30% in testing from the February 7-14 period. The number of individuals who chose to be tested dropped because icy roads and loss of electric power kept them close to home.
The number of new cases dropped from 100 in the February 7-14 period to 86 in the February 15-22 period. The lower new case number was more than off set by the 30% drop in testing. The drop in new case numbers means the virus is failing to find enough human hosts to maintain its previous population density.
Initially, the coloration of the map was determined by infection rate (number of new cases per day per 1,000 population). If infection rate coloration had remained in effect, the county would never have received a gold or yellow designation. Based on infection rate, the county became red in late October and remained red until February 12, when it would have turned orange. Putnam’s infection rate has hovered around 20.0 since dropping below 25.0 (25.0 and above rates receive red designations).
Orange, rather than yellow or gold, more accurately portrays the danger of infection within the county. Putnam’s infection rate will need to decline to below 15.0 before a deserving gold designation can be assigned. The highest Putnam infection rate of 61.75 was recorded on January 2nd. On February 2nd, it dropped to 35.43. The rate at which infection rate is dropping forecasts a gold infection rate coloration on March 2nd.
The county’s improving Covid numbers do not mean that the virus will die out. The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 died down in the summer of 1919 but made a resurgence in the fall. A vaccine was not available to stop the 1919 resurgence. Covid vaccines are available now and are highly effective. A Covid resurgence will not happen this fall if a sufficient number of county residents receive the vaccine.
Putnam County hold its largest one-day vaccination clinic on Saturday (February 27).
Putnam County Health Officer, Dr. E. Michael Robie, issued the following statement on February 20th: “I believe all kids should be in school. I am not seeing any spread there. I am fine with opening restaurants to 75 percent.”
Dr. Robie urges the public to continue to vaccinate, to refrain from spreader events, and, if sick, get tested. Free testing is conducted every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at Liberty Square.