Wayne County has had its 17th and 18th deaths related to COVID-19 within a few days of each other, and officials are very concerned about an increase in the county’s cases, just surpassing 1,000.

“Our cases are surging and we are very concerned,” said Wayne County Health Department Executive Director Christine Stinson. “We have seen a dramatic increase in cases in people over 70. It is vital we all do our part for our community, wear a mask when in public, do not attend large events.”

The county’s 17th death was a female in her 80s living in a long-term care facility, according to Stinson. The patient died Saturday, Oct. 10.

When Indiana State Department of Health unveiled new COVID numbers at noon Tuesday, Oct. 13, it showed Wayne County having its 18th death related to the virus.

However, at that time, the local health department had not yet been contacted about the death. More information will be shared when it is provided to Western Wayne News.

On Tuesday, the state data dashboard showed Wayne County had surpassed 1,000 lab-confirmed positive cases of COVID-19.

Twenty new cases had been added since Monday’s total, bringing the county’s number to 1,004.

Wayne County is showing an 8.4 percent positivity rate among unique individuals for the test, a number much higher than health officials want to see.

Counties are being evaluated on a weekly score, showing one of four levels (blue, yellow, orange or red) based on data.

Wayne County’s numbers were in the blue lowest level a few weeks ago, but have increased recently, putting the county on the second level, which is yellow.

The data shows 109 weekly cases per 100,000 residents in Wayne County.

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Millicent Martin Emery is a reporter and editor for the Western Wayne News.