For the first time since February, the Indiana Department of Health’s COVID-19 tracking map is showing a county in “red,” which indicates unchecked community spread of the coronavirus. That’s Posey County, in the southwestern corner of the state.
All counties in the WVPE listening area are still in the “blue” or “yellow” categories, which indicate low and moderate spread of the virus, respectively.
St. Joseph, Marshall and Starke counties all maintained their blue status from last week, while Elkhart, Kosciusko, Pulaski, LaGrange and LaPorte counties remain in the yellow.
The only listener county that saw conditions change this week was Fulton County, which moved from the blue to the yellow.
Only 15 Hoosier counties are still in the least serious blue category. That’s a nearly 80 percent decrease from the beginning of last month, when 74 of Indiana’s 92 counties were in the blue.
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 that 87 percent of the cases it’s sampling are caused by the Delta variant.
At the Elkhart Common Council meeting Monday, County Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait said the county identified its first case of the Delta variant about three and a half weeks ago.
Wait said hospitalizations in the county are rising –– Goshen Hospital had six admissions over the weekend, she said, as opposed to the one or two weekend admissions the hospital has seen over the past months.
“As for Elkhart County, we are likely in a situation where we are going to see full hospitals,” she said. “I don’t know how we can’t, at this point, have full hospitals.”
Wait said she doesn’t anticipate being able to pass another local mask mandate, but she recommended county residents follow the CDC guidance to wear a mask indoors when social distancing isn’t possible –– even if you’re vaccinated.
“If we want to reduce the burden on our hospitals, reduce the burden on our nursing homes, we have to put a mask on,” Wait said.
According to the state vaccine dashboard, just under 51 percent of Hoosiers age 12 and older are fully vaccinated –– but vaccination status varies widely by zip code.
If you appreciate this kind of journalism on your local NPR station, please support it by donating here.