WHITLEY COUNTY — Whitley County remains on the wrong side of the state’s coronavirus statistics, as the county recorded the highest positivity rate of the 92 counties.

Whitley County had seen a decline in cases, but there is again an uptick, with 30 new cases on the chart on Feb. 5.

Only three other counties were “in the red” after last Wednesday’s update — all of which are in other parts of the state — Warren County, Gibson County and Switzerland County.

Whitley County’s positivity rate was above 17%. The rate will need to drop below 15% and there will need to be less than 200 cases per 100,000 people to move to orange. As of Saturday, there were 347 cases per 100,000 people in Whitley County.

Meanwhile, many other counties in Indiana have moved onto the yellow phase — just one away from blue, which removes COVID restrictions on gatherings and other events.

Noble, Kosciusko, Steuben, Wells, Adams and Elkhart counties are all in the yellow. Allen, DeKalb, LaGrange, Huntington and Wabash counties remain in the orange.

Last week, Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel posted on his Facebook page, encouraging local residents to do their part to “beat COVID-19.”

He encouraged residents to wash hands, wear a mask, social distance, stay home if you aren’t feeling well and get vaccinated when eligible.

“Let’s get out of the red and get back to normal life,” he shared.

Many on social media have voiced their opinions about local spread, stating that they have seen many in public who are not wearing masks, or who are wearing them incorrectly.

Some have even seen lace and crocheted masks or some made of panty hose.

“Are people really washing hands, 6 feet apart, and masking up? Probably not. Still people don’t think it’s real. Well, my brother died two weeks before Thanksgiving. People, it is real. Bury a family member and then see if you get over it yourselves,” Jodi Stangland posted.

Some speculate that the increased positivity rate has been caused by local schools, especially Columbia City High School that was closed for two weeks.

However, the high school has just 118 (including students and staff) of Whitley County’s 3,298 total positive cases. In many cases, students are sent home to quarantine due to exposure from others, rather than a positive case themselves.

In other Whitley County schools, Churubusco Jr./Sr. High School has had 18 positive cases since the beginning of the school year. Churubusco Elementary School has had less than five student cases.

Indian Springs Middle School has reported 35 cases since the beginning of the school year and less than five teacher cases.

Mary Raber Elementary has had eight student cases and no teacher cases. Northern Heights Elementary has had 10 student cases and less than five teacher cases. Little Turtle has had 14 student cases and seven teacher cases. Coesse Elementary has had less than five student and teacher cases.

Whitko Jr./Sr. High School has seen 22 total student cases and less than five teacher cases.

Last week, Columbia City announced that it would be changing its guidelines for fans at athletic contests to allow for more in-person fans.

Participating athletes will receive four tickets and the CCHS student body will receive 100 tickets. The remainder will be first-come, first-served at the gate — about 500 tickets per game for the general public, based on direction from the Whitley County Health Department.

While some have been frustrated and negative on social media, others are looking for bright spots.

“We are so close! We had some days below the 16%, just not enough quite yet to get out of the red. We got this!,” posted April Frazier.

“A lot of people have it right now. It will drop soon,” Tom Crance said.

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