Mixed bag for direction of Monroe County, Indiana COVID-19 trends

COVID-19 numbers are up for Monroe County, but might have plateaued for at least some measures. That contrasts with numbers statewide, which show a clear upward trend.

The generally higher numbers now, compared to a month ago, are blamed by health officials on the prevalence of the Delta variant of the virus, which is more infectious.

According to Indiana’s COVID-19 dashboard, over the last four weeks, when samples of positive tests were taken and genetically sequenced, about 87 percent of them showed they were caused by the Delta variant.

Two deaths, one each on the last two days of July, brought Monroe County’s total number of deaths due to the pandemic to 180.

A local bright spot came when the city of Bloomington announced on Thursday that no employees had tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks.

The monthly city of Bloomington employee case totals for May, June, and July were 3, 2, and 2, respectively, which is a flattish trend.

That contrasts with the countywide trend, which showed a decrease through May from a rolling average of about 26, down to 7 cases a day. Monroe County case numbers maintained a pretty steady level of 5 to 6 cases a day through June. But starting in July, the numbers showed a steady increase to the current level of about 20 cases a day.

The figure of about 20 cases per day in Monroe county has stayed pretty steady for about the last week.

If the average nudges above 21.2 cases a day, that would bump Monroe County into the “orange” category for the dual-score color-coded scheme that the state of Indiana uses to classify counties.

The other metric that Indiana’s health department uses for classification is the positivity rate. And on that score, Monroe county is currently in the second-best category, which is “yellow.”

Starting in July, the positivity rate started to rise from about 3 percent, doubling to more than 6 percent by mid-July. For five days of August, Monroe County’s positivity rate looks like it has settled at a level a little less than 6 percent. To return to the best category of “blue,” the percentage would need to fall below 5 percent.

For case counts and positivity rate, the statewide numbers are worse than Monroe County’s. Since July 18, Indiana’s statewide average case count has nearly tripled from 500 cases a day to 1,440 by the end of this week. That trend looks to be continuing upward.

The state’s positivity rate also rose starting in July, from about the same levels as Monroe County’s. But the state’s positivity rate has continued to rise, and now stands at 8.5 percent.

Statewide, the rolling average hospital census of COVID-19 patients has almost doubled in the last two weeks, from 520 to about 925.