On Tuesday, Indiana surpassed 1,000 new coronavirus cases per day for the first time since May. Now, many WVPE listener counties have moved back into the “yellow” category, indicating moderate spread of the virus, on the state’s COVID-19 tracking map.
Elkhart, Kosciusko, Pulaski and LaPorte counties moved to the “yellow” category this week, joining LaGrange county from last week. Only St. Joseph, Marshall, Fulton and Starke counties remain in the “blue” category, which indicates low spread of the virus.
Statewide, 48 Indiana counties are in the “yellow” and 15 are in the more serious “orange” category, which indicates high spread of the virus. That’s a significant change from a month ago, when all WVPE listener counties were in the “blue” for the first time and just six counties were in the “yellow” statewide.
The statewide rise in cases is likely linked to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and underwhelming levels of vaccination. The state reports 91 percent of COVID-19 cases it sampled in July were caused by the Delta variant, a 48.1 percent increase from June.
St. Joseph County has identified at least two cases of the Delta variant, and county health officials say there are likely more in the area. The county also reported an average of 18.9 cases per day on Wednesday, a level not seen since early June.
Recent scientific studies have found being fully vaccinated offers significant protection against the Delta variant.
According to the state’s vaccine dashboard, 50.4 percent of Hoosiers aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated. But vaccination rates vary widely by zip code.
Due to the Delta variant leading to increased cases nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control announced Tuesday that vaccinated Americans should go back to wearing masks indoors if they live in an area of substantial or higher community transmission.
According to the CDC, Kosciusko, Marshall, Pulaski, Cass and Van Buren counties are currently at or above substantial community transmission. All other WVPE listener counties are classified as having moderate community transmission.
Hospitalizations in Healthcare District 2, which covers most of the WVPE listening area, have also increased.
As of July 28, 42 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 — up from a low of seven patients on July 6 — and 33.6 percent of ICU beds are available.
If you appreciate this kind of journalism on your local NPR station, please support it by donating here.