Allen County residents, you have something to celebrate this New Year's Day if you've been chafing under some of the county's recent coronavirus rules.
The county is now officially out of the red.
Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter on Thursday rescinded his latest emergency restrictions – issued when the county entered the red zone in mid-November.
He said the county had met requirements for dropping to the state's orange category and staying there for two consecutive weeks.
Sutter said the rescinding of red-level restrictions was effective immediately, but “we ask Allen County residents and businesses to remain vigilant with practices that help us continue on a downward trajectory in the spread of this deadly disease.”
The new order retains mask-wearing and social distancing in most cases when in public. But it has eliminated a rule for closing bars and restaurants at midnight.
And, said Megan Hubartt, health department spokeswoman, 50% capacity limits are lifted while the county is in orange.
“Bars and restaurants still need to adhere to directives outlined in the governor's order, which include requiring masks when entering or moving around (an eating or drinking) establishment, remaining seated while eating and drinking, and ensuring seating is arranged so separate parties can maintain 6 feet of distance from each other at all times,” she said.
Gyms also lose capacity limits if they comply with the rest of the orange restrictions.
The new local order is set to expire Jan. 10.
“While we are encouraged to see a decrease in case numbers, positivity rates and hospitalizations in recent weeks, the lift in these restrictions is not meant to send a message that we are safe to go about life as normal,” Sutter, the county health commissioner, said.
The dip in category results from fewer new COVID-19 cases being reported and a drop in the 7-day positivity calculation. That now stands at to 12.77%, below the 15% used as part of the trigger to red status in the state's color-coded system.
Red is the most serious COVID-19 level, signifying more than 200 new cases per 100,000 population per week – what health officials consider “widespread” transmission of the virus in a community.
Orange signifies “significant” community spread of 100 to 199 new cases per 100,000 population and 10% to 14.9% 7-day positivity.
Allen County's most recent positivity level is 12.77%, which places the county halfway to red level.
The county reported Thursday another two Allen County residents died and 237 tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 28,019 cases and 490 deaths.
Statewide, 6,543 new cases and 99 new deaths were reported Thursday by the Indiana State Department of Health. Total cases stood at 511,485 and total deaths numbered 8,263, including 352 probable deaths in people with symptoms but without a positive test result.
The state's 7-day positivity result stood at 14.1%, after corrections were made to the way officials had been tabulating the number.
Allen: 237 (2 deaths)
DeKalb: 35 (1)
Huntington: 40 (2)
Noble: 69 (1)
Sources: Indiana State Department of Health, Allen County Department of Health, DeKalb County Health Department