Monroe County like rest of state: Bump in COVID-19 numbers somewhat outpaces testing; deaths, hospitalizations declining

Yesterday’s 18 new confirmed positive COVID-19 cases for Monroe County put the 7-day rolling average at 8.7 confirmed cases per day.

That’s about 2.5 more cases per day than the highest 7-day rolling average back in April.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Monroe County now stands at 294.

The increased raw number of confirmed cases comes in the context of increased numbers of tests in the county. Hospitalizations and deaths in the county are not showing an increase similar to the higher number of confirmed cases.

That’s similar to the statewide picture: Confirmed positive cases are showing increased numbers, along with higher testing numbers, while death numbers and hospitalizations continue to decline.

But a key stat shows that not all of the increased confirmed positive cases can be chalked up to increased testing numbers.

The rolling 7-day rolling average rate of positive tests—the percentage of tests that come back positive for COVID-19—has increased in Monroe County from under 2 percent on June 26 to around 3.5 percent through July 1.

For the same period, the 7-day rolling rate of positive tests statewide has increased from around 5 percent to about 6 percent. Continue reading “Monroe County like rest of state: Bump in COVID-19 numbers somewhat outpaces testing; deaths, hospitalizations declining”

COVID-19 Update: Monroe County issues separate order; mayor announces positive antibodies; mask mandate mulled; more tests, confirmed cases

On Thursday, Monroe County’s health officer issued a separate COVID-19 order that is slightly more restrictive than the statewide directive.

The local order starts July 4.

The local health order includes a requirement that businesses post signs encouraging their patrons to wear masks, but does not mandate the wearing of masks.

Local officials are mulling the possibility of following the lead of some other Indiana jurisdictions—St. Joseph, Elkhart and Marion counties—by imposing a requirement that masks be worn when residents are in public. But their preference is to get voluntary compliance.

At their regular weekly press conference on Thursday, pushed up a day due to the July 4 holiday, local officials praised Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s decision the previous day to pause his Back on Track plan. Holcomb issued a 4.5 version, instead of adopting Back on Track 5.0.

The day before that, Holcomb had extended to July 31 a previous order halting evictions due to non-payment of rent. As a part of the same extended order, utility shutoffs were suspended until Aug. 14.

The new local health order was issued on the same day when Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. That’s likely due to having been infected back in April, despite having twice tested negative back then.

Increased testing in Monroe County—from a 7-day rolling average of around 100 a day in the first part of June, to closer to 150 a day in the second half of the month—has come with the highest number of positive cases since the pandemic started.

The current 7-day rolling average is around 6 new confirmed cases a day after staying under 2 from late April to mid-June. The rate of positive tests has nudged upward, but not in a dramatic way. Continue reading “COVID-19 Update: Monroe County issues separate order; mayor announces positive antibodies; mask mandate mulled; more tests, confirmed cases”

COVID-19 update: Fourth confirmed case for Bloomington city employees comes amid local uptick; nursing home releases data

bordered R-OUT COVID DAILY CASES Monroe June 28

On Monday, the city of Bloomington issued a press release announcing that a fourth city employee had tested positive for COVID-19.

It was the second positive test for a city employee in the last five days, both of them firefighters. The previous two tests came nearly three months ago. Those were for a firefighter and a parks and recreation staffer.

Helping to provide a clearer picture of what’s going with local COVID-19 numbers has been the regular release of figures from the Golden LivingCenters facility since the beginning of June. Continue reading “COVID-19 update: Fourth confirmed case for Bloomington city employees comes amid local uptick; nursing home releases data”

Up to $100K in Monroe County rainy day funds to go towards township resident assistance

Stacked Bars for TWP Assistance

On the Monroe County council’s work session agenda for Tuesday is the approval of an interlocal agreement that will boost township assistance programs by up to $100,000.

The money would come from the county’s rainy day fund.

County commissioners already gave their approval at their regular meeting on June 17.

The move comes as some rent and utilities moratoriums, related to the COVID-19 health emergency, are set to expire.  They’re tied to Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s executive orders. Continue reading “Up to $100K in Monroe County rainy day funds to go towards township resident assistance”

Election board OKs 3 of 23 provisional ballots from June 2 primaries

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As Monroe County election board chair Hal Turner put it, everything the board did on Friday was based on Indiana’s election code. (Screen grab from video of meeting to which the image links.)

In a Friday afternoon meeting that lasted just a bit over a half hour, Monroe County’s election board reviewed 23 provisional ballots cast at the June 2 primary elections.

That’s about a minute and 20 seconds per ballot.

The board accepted three provisional ballots and rejected the other 20. Provisional ballot review was the only item of business for the three member board, which consists of the county clerk, Nicole Browne, and two members appointed by the county chairs of the two major political parties. Continue reading “Election board OKs 3 of 23 provisional ballots from June 2 primaries”

Police killing of Black man in Minneapolis sparks protest in Bloomington, Indiana; march and call for action planned for next week by others

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Protesters take a knee in the middle of College Avenue next to the Monroe County jail on Friday evening and observe “seven minutes of silence.” The seven-minute period was chosen to match early media reports of the timespan during which the Minneapolis police officer had pinned his knee on George Floyd’s neck, which killed the 46-year-old Black man. The officer has been charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

The killing by Minneapolis police of George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, along with other recent police killings of Black men and women, has sparked protests across the country.

Floyd died on May 25 when a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him down with a knee-on-neck hold, an incident that was caught on video. Chauvin, who is white, has been fired and is now charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Locally, the initial reaction played out in the form of a demonstration Friday evening, when a group of around 150 protesters gathered at the southeast corner of the courthouse square in downtown Bloomington. The gathering looks like it was spurred by a more-or-less impromptu call to action on local social media websites.

Protesters eventually moved one block east west from the intersection near the Alexander Memorial, to the corner anchored by The Tap. They later walked two blocks north. They wrapped up the roughly 90 minutes of protest in the middle of College Avenue, across from the Monroe County jail.

An event scheduled for next Friday, June 5, led by Indiana University Black student leaders Selena Drake and Salina Tesfagiorgis, is planned to start at Dunn Meadow, and make its way to the courthouse. Drake is studying law and public policy. Tesfagiorgis is a masters student at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies. Continue reading “Police killing of Black man in Minneapolis sparks protest in Bloomington, Indiana; march and call for action planned for next week by others”

“You are safest at home,” says Monroe County’s health administrator, but science plus art means re-opening start

Monroe County’s health administrator Penny Caudill said Wednesday that last week’s local health emergency order on COVID-19 would likely be replaced at week’s end with one that allows barbershops and hair salons to re-open and restaurants to offer dine-in service, starting Saturday, May 16. [Updated: May 14, 2020 at 4:35 p.m. The order has been issued.]

The county’s current order is stricter than Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track” plan  announced May 1.

The local order—which was also issued on May 1, and maintained the same kind of business closures and stay-at-home directives as the governor’s “Hunker Down, Hoosiers” order had—is set to expire at the end of the day on Friday.

The new local order is expected to be effective through May 31, Caudill said.

Caudill made the announcement at Wednesday morning’s county board of commissioners meeting. She said that the new order is still in draft form and could change if there are new developments between now and Friday. Continue reading ““You are safest at home,” says Monroe County’s health administrator, but science plus art means re-opening start”

A closer look at some COVID-19 trends behind re-opening Indiana: Monroe County in statewide context

Barchart COVID-19 admittances

When Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, gave his state of the city address on Feb. 20, just 15 cases of the COVID-19 virus were confirmed nationwide, none of them in the Hoosier state.

Now two and a half months later, 1,132 residents of Indiana have died of COVID-19, out of about 20,000 confirmed cases.

In Monroe County, the count of COVID-19 deaths stands at 8, out of a total of 130 confirmed positive cases. Of the eight Monroe County deaths, three are female, one male and one is unknown. Four were between 70 and 79 years old, three were older than 80, and one was 50 to 59. All eight were White.

An economic shutdown prompted by COVID-19 began with Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s “Hunker-Down, Hoosiers” order six weeks ago, on March 25.

Now most of the state is preparing for a partial emergence from that shutdown on the morning of Monday May 4.

Under Holcomb’s Friday order, most of the state will see all retail stores allowed to open on Monday at 50 percent of their occupational capacity. Under Holcomb’s order, a week later, on May 11, restaurants would be allowed to open for dine-in service at 50 percent of their seating capacity. The governor’s order includes a series of phases that lead to a mostly complete re-opening by July 4.

But Monroe County health officials, with support from other government leaders, are using their option to keep the county buttoned up a bit longer. Continue reading “A closer look at some COVID-19 trends behind re-opening Indiana: Monroe County in statewide context”

Monroe goes slow: COVID-19 measures stay in place for two more weeks, as other parts of the state start opening on May 4

2020-05-01 MCHO Screen Shot 2020-05-01 at 5.33.59 PMIn a COVID-19 public health order signed by Monroe County’s health officer Thomas Sharp on Friday,  a stay-at-home directive was put in place for Monroe County’s residents that lasts until May 15.

Other features of Friday’s Monroe County order include a prohibition on restaurant dine-in service.

That means for another two weeks, life for Monroe County’s residents will look the same as it has under Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order over the last month and a half.

So Monroe County will be going slower than most of the rest of the state, based on Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s revised order, issued earlier in the afternoon on Friday. Continue reading “Monroe goes slow: COVID-19 measures stay in place for two more weeks, as other parts of the state start opening on May 4”

Unknowns might shroud worse racial disparity as Indiana releases more COVID-19 information

REVISED R Horizontal Bar Chart COVID RACE Disparity County in Indiana UKNOWNS ARE UNKNOWNS

More kinds of data and more tools for visualizing it were a part of the re-vamped COVID-19 data dashboard rolled out on Monday by the Indiana State Department of Health.

The new dashboard shows that of the 2,960 ICU beds in the state, about a quarter of them are being used for COVID-19 patients, and a little over 30 percent for other patients. That leaves about 1,300 ICU beds open for future COVID-19 patients.

The new dashboard also gives a visual answer to the question that arises when the cumulative death total is reported as going up by some number of “new” deaths: To which previous days have those new deaths been allocated, so that the deaths square up with the date when they occurred?

Also added to the dashboard for Monday was a breakdown of the racial makeup of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state. Available through the data feed that populates the dashboard are county-level numbers.

Statewide, the number of deaths among Black residents stands around 20 percent, with 8.6 percent of deaths by people of unknown race. The Black population in Indiana is about 9.3 percent, based on 2018 American Community Survey numbers.

Even if none of the Unknowns are Black, that would still mean  that Blacks account for at least twice as many deaths from COVID-19 as their percentage of the population alone would predict. Continue reading “Unknowns might shroud worse racial disparity as Indiana releases more COVID-19 information”