For Monroe County health administrator Penny Caudill, kindness is part of the key to dealing with the current resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
At Friday’s regular news conference of local leaders, Caudill sketched out the rise in the basic pandemic stats and the relatively low vaccination rates.
She then made an appeal to kindness: “You can be part of the solution to this. Be kind to others even when you disagree.” Caudill continued, “Be kind to the workers doing their jobs. Wear your mask as required, and if requested. Stay at home if you’re sick, get tested as appropriate.”
Caudill wrapped up: “So please be kind. And we want people to get vaccinated.” Caudill said, the best place to find information about times and locations of vaccination clinics is still at ourshot.in.gov
The vaccination rate among eligible Monroe County residents is still only about 57.2 percent, well short of the 70 percent that was batted around as a target in the early days of vaccination.
That target has risen as the more infectious Delta variant has spread. Of the positive tests that have been genetically sequenced in the last four weeks statewide, 83 percent were determined to be caused by the Delta variant, according to the Indiana state department of health dashboard.
At Friday’s news conference, Kirk White, who is Indiana University’s assistant vice president of strategic partnerships, said that the vaccination rate for the IU Bloomington community is around 90 percent. That’s helped along by the fact that IU has a vaccine requirement, which the US Supreme Court has declined to block.
The high vaccination rate for IU affiliates means the vaccination rate for non-IU Monroe County residents is less than the 57.2 percent stat reported for all county residents.
Caudill was asked at Friday’s news conference if it would be useful to come up with a non-IU affiliate rate of vaccination so that Monroe County doesn’t feel complacent about having a better rate than other counties in Indiana that are not host to a major university.
Caudill said, “I certainly don’t want to be complacent with our numbers, regardless of what they are.” It would be interesting to separate out those numbers, Caudill said, but pointed out that IU faculty and staff are part of the local community. “Many of them live here on a permanent basis,” she said.
Another surge: By the numbers
Indiana has seen a 11-fold increase in cases from the end of June through mid-August. At the end of June, Indiana was averaging just under 200 confirmed positive cases a day. That figure is now up to 2,200. That’s the highest level since late January.
Hospitalizations are up statewide to an average daily census of around 1,200—numbers not seen since late January and early February.
In Monroe County, the increase in positive cases is not as rapid, but still reflects a clear surge. At the end of June, Monroe County was averaging around 5 confirmed cases a day. That number has now quintupled at around 25 cases a day.
During the same time period, the positivity rate statewide has more than tripled, from around 3 percent to 9.85 percent.
In Monroe County, the positivity rate has also more than tripled, but at a lower starting number. At the end of June, Monroe County’s positivity rate was 2 percent, and has climbed to 6.5 percent.