Health Department Encourages Testing, Proactive Steps Ahead of Holiday Gatherings

Posted Wednesday, November 17, 2021.

HUNTINGTON – The Huntington County Health Department and Public Health Officer Dr. Matt Pflieger are encouraging local residents to add a simple, precautionary step to their Thanksgiving preparations.

“If you get tested for COVID-19 and are negative, you can feel a little better about going to be with your family for the holiday,” Pflieger said.

Pflieger said testing alone is not a perfect solution, but it could help decrease your risk at a time when numbers in our area remain high. Compared to the rest of the state, new cases and positivity rates are elevated in northeast Indiana.

A negative test within 48 to 72 hours of traveling for the holiday or having guests in your home could add an extra layer of protection against the potential spread of the virus to your friends and family members, Pflieger said. He recommends testing before the holiday for anyone attending a gathering or traveling for the holiday, regardless of vaccination status.

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“This is a layer of mitigation that taken with other things is a useful tool,” Pflieger said.

The Indiana Department of Health also recommends the following precautionary steps to help prevent transmission of the virus:

  • Get vaccinated. Children and adults age 5 and up are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Wear a mask. Wear a cloth or surgical face mask over your mouth and nose when grocery shopping or in other public indoor setting, or when serving food.
  • Wash your hands before eating or serving food.
  • Outdoors is safer than indoors. Enjoy a picnic or other outdoor activities, weather permitting.
  • Communicate in advance with guests about your COVID-19 ground rules and the precautions you’re taking. Cancel plans if you’re sick.
  • Safe travels. If traveling or gathering with unvaccinated family members, avoid crowds, wear a mask and get tested.

People who have mild or no symptoms can carry and spread the virus – even those who are fully vaccinated. National public health officials have reported that vaccination makes this significantly less likely, but it does not completely eliminate this risk. Full vaccination, combined with other layers of mitigation, is the safest option and provides strong protection against severe illness, hospitalization and death.

All of District 3, which contains Huntington County, is at an elevated advisory level, according to the state Health Department’s latest data. The state’s color-coded county metrics map can be found at

District 3 counties at a “red” advisory level include LaGrange and DeKalb counties. “Red” is the highest alert level on the state’s color-coded county metrics map.

Those at the second-highest “orange” advisory level are Steuben, Noble, Whitley, Allen, Miami, Wabash, Huntington, Wells and Adams counties. No District 3 counties are at the second-lowest “yellow” or lowest “blue” category.

Other regions of the state tend to be a mix of “yellow” and “orange” counties. Seven Indiana counties in total have a “red” advisory level, with only two of these located in a district outside of northeast Indiana.

The state’s county metrics map and corresponding advisory levels are updated each Wednesday. In today’s update, Huntington County has a 10.13 percent seven-day positivity rate and 520 new cases per 100,000 residents. Allen County has a 10.24 percent seven-day positivity rate and 383 new cases per 100,000 residents.

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