Monroe County confirmed COVID-19 numbers jump, driven by younger cases

The last two days of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Monroe County have soared past previous highs, since the county’s first confirmed positive case on March 21.

The number reported for Saturday (Aug. 30) was 38, eclipsing the previous one-day total by 3. The number for Sunday was 56, which is about double the current rolling 7-day rolling average of confirmed positives.

Speculation that the increased numbers are driven by positive tests among Indiana University students is supported by the age range of recent cases. Monroe County health administrator Penny Caudill told The Square Beacon that the health department was getting reports of increased numbers of positive test among people age 18 to 25.

Caudill told The Square Beacon that she’d been advised that the Indiana State Department of Health will eventually provide a breakdown of Indiana University’s numbers. “I am anxiously awaiting these details from the state,” she said.

Based on Indiana State Department of Health numbers, it’s the younger age brackets that are driving the increases. People under age 30 account for 70 percent of confirmed cases for the three-and-a-half-week period from Aug. 7 through yesterday.

Some of the increased number of positive cases have come from Indiana University campus tests. Last week, the university announced the number of positive tests in some Greek houses was “alarming” and put them under quarantine. Last week, the number of cases in the Greek houses wasn’t immediately available from the university.

Last week, the university started releasing COVID-19 data from its massive on-campus testing program through a data dashboard.

On Monday, numbers on IU’s mitigation testing were added to the dashboard. Mitigation testing means testing of those who are asymptomatic, to get an idea of disease prevalence and to isolate those who might not have any idea they could be spreading the disease.

Since Aug. 24, IU has done 7,872 mitigation tests and recorded 274 positives, for a rate of around 3.5 percent.

According to IU’s director of media relations, Chuck Carney, the mitigation test numbers will be updated every Monday from now on.

For diagnostic tests, which are done on people who are showing symptoms of COVID-19, 43 out of 152 tests, or about 27 percent, came back positive—that’s for the week of Aug. 20.

According to Carney, the IU COVID-19 dashboard will eventually also include numbers indicating how much of the university’s quarantine space is being used. Information on other distinct populations on campus will also be available, Carney said.

The number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Monroe County is 36, with the most recent one recorded on Aug. 22.

The most recent finalized rolling average for the county’s positivity rate stands at 2.4 percent as of Aug. 23. The state treats computed positivity rates as preliminary for the week immediately preceding the latest day’s report. The finalized rolling average has not yet seen a dramatic uptick.

Based on metrics adopted by the Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCSCC), as long as the seven-day rolling average of positivity stays under 5 percent, instruction will be offered in-person for all grades. If it’s greater than 10 percent, then MCSCC could return to online-only instruction.

The rolling average positivity rate for Monroe County hasn’t been above 3 percent since Aug. 10. The last time it was at least 5 percent was July 16.