Sunday’s noon update of the State of Indiana’s COVID-19 dashboard showed no additional COVID-19 deaths in Monroe County. That’s two days shy of a month since the county’s last COVID-19 death was recorded, on June 21.
But the dashboard showed that a recent surge in positive cases continues unabated. More than two dozen cases each day were logged on Friday and Saturday.
The previous high had been 18 cases. That brings the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Monroe County to 472.
Last week, some uncertainty about future testing capacity was raised by state and local officials.
Half of Monroe County’s COVID-19 cases have been confirmed since June 29. That means in the last three weeks, the same number of cases have been confirmed positive as in the 14 weeks before that, starting with the first confirmed case on March 21.
The more recent positive cases are skewed towards younger age brackets. In the last six days, of the 111 confirmed positive cases in Monroe county, 63 of them (57 percent) have been people younger than 29.
Measured by the need for hospitalization, some of confirmed positive cases are serious.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the county requiring hospitalization has started to show an increase. According to the data feed for the state’s dashboard, around June 15, the number of all COVID-19 hospitalized cases was around 15 patients. That number has now risen to nearly 50. That’s around the same number of hospitalized patients as the previous peak, in late April and early May.
The number of hospitalized cases requiring care in an intensive care unit (ICU) has also started nudging upward. From mid-June through the first week of July, there were only one or zero ICU COVID-19 cases reported in the dashboard feed. Now the number of ICU COVID-19 cases in Monroe County stands around a half dozen.
An increase in the raw number of confirmed positive cases can be attributed in part to an increase in the raw number of tests. But the positive rate of tests has also increased in Monroe County. The positive rate stayed between 1 and 2 percent from May through mid-June, rising to around 4 or 5 percent, where it seems to have settled for the last week and a half.
At Friday’s weekly press conference, Monroe County’s health administrator, Penny Caudill, said she encouraged people to get tested, if they have symptoms, or they’re in a high-risk category, or if they have been in a situation where they are could have been exposed.
But Caudill does not recommend routine testing based on a time interval like every two weeks. Testing is not a substitute for changing behavior, Caudill said. She stressed the importance of hand washing, maintaining physical distance and wearing a face covering.
Caudill gave another reason for not getting routine periodic tests, but to get one if there is a specific concern prompting it. Testing materials are in somewhat short supply, Caudill said—because supplies for tests have been diverted to other hot spots in the country.
That’s the same message Indiana State Health Commissioner Kris Box conveyed at a July 15 press conference. “We’re having to adapt to the supply and demand issues that have been created by the significance spikes that we’ve seen in other states across the country,” Box said.