Coronavirus cases in St. Joseph County are at the lowest level since the start of the pandemic, and the county’s COVID-19 tracking metrics are all in the green for the first time ever.
In addition, there have been too few new cases per day to accurately calculate an r value — or how many people each infected person spreads the virus to — since May 26. If the r value is more than one, cases will continue to grow. But if it’s less than one, they will gradually die out.
Deputy health officer Dr. Mark Fox said it’s really gratifying to see such low numbers for the first time. But the pandemic isn’t over yet.
“We have not reached the point where anyone would say that COVID is contained,” Fox said. “We’re close, but we’re not quite there yet.”
The biggest risk? More contagious variants of the virus — especially if they’re not as well controlled by the vaccine.
“As people are traveling more for summer vacations, as people come from all over the country for Notre Dame football in the fall, there will be increasing opportunities for variants to be introduced into the community from somewhere else,” he said.
About 43 percent of the county is fully vaccinated. Fox said the number of doses administered per day has dropped to around 600 from a peak of 3,000 in April.
“So, significant decline,” he said. “I think we captured a lot of people early, the people who were really eager to get the vaccine.”
But even with that drop, more than half of the administered doses are first doses. Fox said they’re seeing a lot of newly eligible 12 to 15 year olds.
“It tells me we’re getting new customers in the door,” he said. “At the pace we’re going right now, we’re going to be administering doses to about 1 percent of the county every week.”
At that rate, Fox said the county will be at the desired level of vaccination by the end of the year.
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