Montgomery County saw a sharp drop in new coronavirus cases during February and more than 1 million Hoosiers have received at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, state figures show.
The county reported 273 additional cases last month, according to the state’s online COVID-19 dashboard, down from 710 in January. There were more than 1,200 new cases reported in December. A total of 3,870 cases have been confirmed since the pandemic began.
Four Montgomery County residents died of COVID-related causes last month, compared to 15 in January, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
The decrease in the spread of the virus comes as counties across the state ease COVID restrictions. In Indianapolis beginning Monday, bars and indoor restaurants can seat more customers and stay open later, just in time for the NCAA basketball tournament.
Health experts urge people to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing, saying the outbreak is far from over and that moving too quickly could prolong the misery.
On Monday, the head of the CDC, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, urgently warned state officials and ordinary Americans not to let down their guard, saying she is “really worried about reports that more states are rolling back the exact public health measures that we have recommended.”
“I remain deeply concerned about a potential shift in the trajectory of the pandemic,” she said. “We stand to completely lose the hard-earned ground that we have gained.”
Montgomery County remains in the yellow on the advisory level map, representing the second-lowest level of community spread. More than half of Indiana’s 92 counties are currently in the yellow.
The county’s seven-day all-test positivity rate stood at 5.4%, according to the state health department.
As Indiana reaches the vaccination milestone, the approval of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot COVID-19 vaccine brought new hope in the nation’s year-long ordeal with the virus.
Johnson & Johnson shipped out nearly 4 million doses of its newly authorized vaccine Sunday night to be delivered to states for use starting on Tuesday. The company will deliver about 16 million more doses by the end of March and a total of 100 million by the end of June.
That adds to the supply being distributed by Pfizer and Moderna and should help the nation amass enough doses by midsummer to vaccinate all adults. The White House is encouraging Americans to take the first dose available to them, regardless of manufacturer.
Since late December, a total of 1,000,321 Hoosiers had received at least one vaccine dose, and 569,465 of them are fully vaccinated, the state health department said.
In Montgomery County, 5,383 individuals have received their first dose and 2,348 of them are fully vaccinated, state figures show. Local officials say the reported numbers lag behind the local count. By last Saturday, as many as 4,000 people were estimated to be fully vaccinated, Crawfordsville Mayor Todd Barton said on WBAA radio’s “Ask the Mayor” program last week.
Indiana residents age 60 and older, health care workers and first responders are among those currently eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
To schedule a vaccine, Hoosiers can visit https://ourshot.in.gov and select a clinic location.
The Montgomery County Health Department currently does not have a waitlist for extra vaccine doses, the department said in a recent Facebook post.
Any leftover doses are provided to clinic volunteers or eligible recipients.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.