Pandemic update: Steady climb for Monroe County COVID-19 cases, CDC rubric says spread still low

The number of daily COVID-19 cases recorded in Monroe County continues a steady climb.

But guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) still peg the community spread of the virus at a “low” level—which is the lowest of its three categories (low, medium, and high).

The rolling daily average of COVID-19 cases in Monroe County has risen steadily, if not dramatically, from about 5 cases a day at the beginning of April to around 26 cases now, at the end of the month.

Hospitalizations in Monroe County remain low. Indiana’s Health District 8, which is made up of 7 counties including Monroe, had a census of 7 COVID-19 patients on Friday.  That compares to more than 170 at the peak of the pandemic.

But the 7 patients on Friday compare to just three on Monday. District 8 includes Monroe, Brown, Bartholomew, Lawrence, Jackson, Orange and Washington counties.

Case numbers alone can cause the official CDC community spread classification (low, medium, high) to increase, only if they exceed a total of 200 cases in a week per 100,000 in population.

For Monroe County’s 2020 census population of 139,718, that works out to an average of about 39.9 cases a day. Monroe County’s current rolling average could rise another 14 cases a day before that number is exceeded.

Even if the number of cases stays under 200 per 100,000 population, a sufficiently high number of hospitalizations could cause the CDC classification to increase. But Monroe County is nowhere near the hospitalization numbers that would trigger that re-classification.

Here’s how the CDC classification scheme works:

Associated with each level are recommendations from the CDC.

For Monroe County’s current low level (green), the CDC recommends: staying up to date with COVID-19 vaccines; and getting tested if you have symptoms.

For the next level (medium, yellow), the CDC adds talking to your healthcare provider about whether you need to wear a mask and take other precautions—if you are at high risk for severe illness. Only for the highest level (red) does the CDC recommend wearing a mask indoors in public.

As measured by the number of virus gene copies in Bloomington’s sewage, the amount of virus circulating in the community is climbing. On April 18 the sample taken at the Blucher Poole wastewater treatment plant showed 260 gene copies per 100 ml. On April 25 that number had quadrupled to 1000 gene copies per 100 ml.

2 thoughts on “Pandemic update: Steady climb for Monroe County COVID-19 cases, CDC rubric says spread still low

  1. I check the CDC website pretty often, and I noticed over the weekend that we are now rated as at a medium community level. I think this is the rating system you are using for the article. Probably needs an update.

    1. Hi Eric,

      Thanks for the heads up. That could be due to a glitch in reporting from the state of Indiana to the CDC. The “medium” level now recorded for Monroe County, Indiana is based on 272.85 cases per 100K in a week, as of April 28, 2022. (CDC raw data here: https://data.cdc.gov/Public-Health-Surveillance/United-States-COVID-19-Community-Levels-by-County/3nnm-4jni)

      But that doesn’t square up with the State of Indiana’s current dataset. A possible reason for that discrepancy was an update to Indiana’s data on the Friday before last (April 22)—which included around 1,400 additional “new” cases statewide. They were “new” in the sense that they were included in the dataset for the first time on that Friday, but they were allocated to their correct date (the date of the positive test) in the state’s dataset. The “new” cases reported on that day were distributed across an extended period before that.

      Monroe County’s chunk of those “new” cases was over 200. Monroe County’s health department also thought at first that the “new cases” reported for that Friday meant the date of positive tests were on that date. A press release was issued by Monroe County health department on the topic: https://bsquarebulletin.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/2022-04-26-health-dept-press-release.pdf If the state of Indiana reported the data to CDC in whatever way led the Monroe County health department to conclude there more more than 200 positive tests on one day, then it the CDC is probably using an inflated number to calculate that “medium” level.

      Anyhow, if that reporting glitch is the source of the CDC’s “medium” level, I think by next week the CDC’s raw number will likely drop, to come in line with the state of Indiana’s data, and we’ll see the CDC level drop back to “low.” Or, if over the next week Monroe County cases continue their solid rise as already reflected in the state of Indiana’s data, we could nudge over the 200-cases-per-100K threshold that automatically makes the level at least “medium,” no matter what hospitalization numbers look like.

      Thanks again for the heads up on the level that CDC is currently reporting. It’s worth keeping an eye on whether the CDC’s raw case numbers match Indiana’s dataset.

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