For the first time since April, all WVPE listener counties are back in the “yellow” category, indicating moderate spread of the virus, on the state’s COVID-19 tracking map. Last week, St. Joseph, Marshall and Starke counties were still in the “blue” category, indicating low spread of the virus.
Statewide, only Randolph county remains in the blue. Forty counties are in the yellow, and 43 are in the more serious “orange” category, which indicates high spread of the virus.
And in the southern half of the state, eight counties are now in the “red” category, which indicates unchecked community spread.
But according to the Centers for Disease Control, every Indiana county has “substantial” or “high” community spread of the virus, meaning both vaccinated and unvaccinated Hoosiers should wear masks indoors.
Like most of the country, Indiana is currently experiencing a surge of COVID-19 cases due to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant and underwhelming levels of vaccination.
At the end of July, the state reported 91 percent of COVID-19 cases it sampled were caused by the variant, a 48.1 percent increase from June. So far, 82.6 percent of cases sampled in August were caused by the Delta variant.
According to the state’s vaccine dashboard, 51 percent of Hoosiers aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated, but vaccination rates vary widely by zip code. Recent scientific studies have found being fully vaccinated offers significant protection against the Delta variant.
Hospitalizations in Healthcare District 2, which covers most of the WVPE listening area, have also increased.
As of August 10, 62 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 — up from a low of seven patients on July 6 — and 31.1 percent of ICU beds are available.
The CDC recommends unvaccinated Americans — which includes all children under 12 — wear masks indoors at all times, even if COVID-19 cases are low.
South Bend Community School Corporation implemented a universal mask mandate last week, but many other area districts — including Mishawaka, Elkhart, Concord, Goshen and Penn-Harris-Madison — have remained mask optional.
South Bend and Mishawaka students went back to school Wednesday, and other area districts are starting classes within the week.
Indiana state education officials have “strongly urged” masks in schools, but will not require them and are leaving the decision up to individual districts.
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