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Whitley County residents share divided opinions about new designation as ‘red’ COVID county

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- According to the state Department of Health's COVID map, Whitley County moved from orange to red status after jumping in its positivity rate to 16.58%, the highest in the top half of the state.

McKayla Adair has a theory about why that happened.

"We are 'if you want to wear a mask then you can wear a mask. If you don't want to then you don't have to.' I know that a lot of us here are Christians, as well, and we're not afraid to I guess die because we know where we're going," she said.

She says while her parents are vaccinated, she and her grandparents are not.

And even though she's stayed away from them because she knows they're more susceptible…

"My grandpa is in the hospital with COVID as well, so just worried about that, too. So there's fear but there's also courage," Adair said.

Whitley County has the highest COVID-19 positivity rate in the entire top half of the state -- 16.58%.

We caught up with Travis Schwarzbach who says he's frustrated that Whitley County's COVID rates are rising and that the virus has hit so close to home.

"It's a little troubling knowing everything that's going around and having close family and friends that have gotten it and the lack of people actually wearing masks is a little scary and then the lack of vaccinations, as well," he said.

He says he's done what he can to protect his family, but is upset that he couldn't keep everyone safe.

"I'm vaccinated, my wife's vaccinated, my sons are not yet because they're not of age. No, he got it. Oliver got it, my son. So yeah, it was definitely a scary time. And then my oldest sister just got over it, and then a couple of my friends have gotten it. Luckily they've all been fairly asymptomatic but it's still scary," he added.

Whitley County's health officer declined a request for an interview.

In meetings all day, Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel did share a statement that says, "Obviously, we are disappointed in the numbers and encourage our residents to take precautions to protect themselves and vulnerable populations from COVID-19."

According to state health data, it would appear not enough Whitley County residents are doing that, and are putting the county in red status with its high case count and positivity rate.

Corinne Rose

Corinne Rose is a reporter for WPTA.

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