Pandemic notebook: Surge subsiding, but slowly

The current surge in COVID-19 case numbers seems to be past its peak statewide and in Monroe County.

But  IU Health south central region president Brian Shockney said on Friday that this one seems to be a little different from previous surges.

That’s because hospitalization numbers are decreasing more slowly after hitting their peak. He was speaking at the weekly news conference of local leaders on pandemic response.

Shockney said IU Health’s facility has continued to see a steady volume of COVID-19 patients over the past few weeks. “We’re seeing a longer tail in this surge than previous surges,” Shockney said. He added, “We may be coming out of this surge for a longer period of time than previously thought.”

That’s consistent with the trend of confirmed positive case numbers in Monroe County. They have leveled off after peaking on Sept. 17 at a rolling average of 47 cases a day, and started to drop. The current rolling average through the end of September stands at 32. But on the final two days of the month, the state’s dashboard logged 44 and 45 cases for Monroe County.

Shockney asked and answered a rhetorical question: “What’s the solution to getting this to decline quickly? Vaccinations.”

Indiana University Bloomington’s vaccination numbers, as reported by IU vice president for strategic partnerships Kirk White, now stand at 92.8 percent.

That’s a lot better than the 59.9 percent of eligible Monroe County residents who are now vaccinated. The rolling daily average of new fully vaccinated Monroe County residents now stands at about 34 a day. That pace translates into more than a month to gain another percentage point.

Bloomington mayor John Hamilton said on Friday that a decision on whether curbside recycling service will resume next week will likely be made on Sunday. Last week, curbside recycling was cancelled because too many sanitation workers were out sick with COVID-19.

Hamilton responded to a reporter’s question about the possibility of extending the closure of Kirkwood avenue and the “parklet” program past the current end date of Oct. 31. Hamilton said, “I think that will be considered.” Hamilton continued, “The city worked very closely with Downtown Bloomington, Inc. and the establishments themselves.”

The idea is to give restaurant patrons an outdoor option if they don’t yet feel comfortable eating indoors, due to the pandemic.

Hamilton added, “There’s no reason to close the street, if it won’t be used. But we’ll be continuing to discuss and, and people will be voting with their feet.”