EVANSVILLE, Ind. – After a two-week decline in new local COVID-19 cases, recent increases are likely to lead to guesswork about the course of the virus.
But in the short term, Vanderburgh, Warrick and Posey counties remained “yellow” — the second lowest of four tiers — in Wednesday’s update of the state’s color-coded COVID-19 severity map. Better yet, Gibson County went from “orange,” the second-highest level of severity, to yellow. Updated weekly, the map assigns a color to each province based on data tracking cases and positivity percentages.
The bad news is deeper in the data. In most counties and around the state, COVID-19 statistics are once again heading in the wrong direction.
Last week, Vanderburgh County followed two weeks of declining numbers of COVID-19 cases with a 36% increase. Warrick and Posey counties saw a weekly increase of 69% and 28% respectively, while Gibson County saw a 35% increase in cases.
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In the first three days of the current week, Vanderburgh County has already registered 166 new COVID-19 cases, putting it on track to exceed last week’s 282.
Statewide, the seven-day daily case average was above 2,000 for the first time in nearly a month on Wednesday, according to the Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard. The seven-day positivity rate, which dropped to just 7.3% at the end of October, is now at 8%.
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Forget speculation that a fall and winter wave of coronavirus cases is on the way, COVID-19 data analyst Micah Pollak said statewide. This may be the cyclical nature of the virus reappearing.
“It’s pretty consistent that you go from the start of one wave (of new cases) to the start of the next one in about two to three months, so we’re kind of at it,” said Pollak, an economics professor at Indiana University Northwest.
“It’s just part of the natural cycle of how the virus works that we’re going to see the number of cases rise again.”
The most recent wave of August cases began quietly in Vanderburgh County on June 20, the day the county recorded its first consistent increase in the average number of positive tests collected per day. It took almost exactly two months for Vanderburgh to peak at 1,302 new cases in the last week of August.
Pollak pointed to COVID-19 deaths and the rate at which cases are rising as indicators.
By the time June 20 arrived, the weekly number of cases in Vanderburgh County hadn’t increased for nearly a month. The week after June 20, the weekly count rose 264%, albeit by small totals – from 14 to 51. It continued to grow until the end of August.
Vanderburgh County recorded no new deaths in the week leading up to June 20 and two the week after. The province has reported no new deaths from COVID-19 in the past week.
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Pollak accepts the premise of most health care experts that COVID-19 will never be eradicated, but can be contained.
“I think over time we will see smaller and smaller waves,” he said.
Nearly 95,000 Vanderburgh County residents were fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday morning, according to the Indiana Vaccination Dashboard. That is almost 53% of the inhabitants of the province.
A week after children ages 5 to 11 became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, 15 children in that age group in Vanderburgh County received their first doses, according to state data. But that number is probably too low. On Friday alone, ten children — employees of Ascension St. Vincent Evansville — were vaccinated at the local hospital’s Manor building, although not all of them live in Vanderburgh County.
Diaconess Health System is also one of the health care providers offering the childhood vaccine. Local residents can also use www.vaccines.gov to find providers offering COVID-19 pediatric vaccines.
Vaccination appointments against COVID-19 can be scheduled at any vaccine clinic at https://ourshot.in.gov. People without a computer or mobile phone can call 211 (866-211-9966). Walk-in appointments are accepted at most vaccination sites.
COVID-19 Cases in Evansville Counties
Total standings on Thursday:
- Vanderburgh County has reported a total of 32,987 cases of COVID-19 and 488 deaths during the pandemic.
- Warrick County has reported a total of 11,531 cases of COVID-19 and 189 deaths during the pandemic.
- Gibson County has reported a total of 6,756 cases of COVID-19 and 115 deaths during the pandemic.
- Posey County has reported a total of 3,865 cases of COVID-19 and 44 deaths during the pandemic.
COVID-19 continues to hit unvaccinated individuals the hardest, according to data posted to Facebook by Deaconess Health System. The data from Diaconess also illustrates the recent decline of the coronavirus in this area.
Deacones reported on Sept. 1 that it had 179 COVID-positive hospital patients. The new number is 35 – 83% of them are “unvaccinated”. There are 11 infected patients in Deaconess’s ICU, the local health system reported. All but two of them have not been vaccinated.
Eight coronavirus patients are on a ventilator, Deaconess reported – seven of them have not been vaccinated.
The figures include all deaconesse hospitals and the Women’s Hospital.
Ascension St. Vincent Evansville has not regularly released patient vaccination data, but it has anecdotally said it knows the data would show the same trend.
Thomas B. Langhorne can be reached by email at [email protected]