COVID-19 pandemic notebook: Monroe County now classified as “low” spread

The latest COVID-19 map from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) shows Monroe County, Indiana, as having “low” community spread of the pandemic virus.

That comes after the county spent some time a few weeks ago in the “medium” classification, based on the number of new hospital admissions.

Monroe County qualifies as having “low” community spread in part because the case rate per 100,000 population is 137. That’s less than 200, the threshold above which the county would be bumped into the “medium” category, according to the CDC scoring metric.

Also qualifying the county as in the “low” category of community spread are the 6.5 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population—which is below the threshold of 10 admissions per 100,000. And the percentage of staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with confirmed COVID-19 is 8.2 percent, which is below the threshold of 10 percent.

According to CDC data, Monroe County is one of just 19 counties in the state that are classified as “low.”

Of Indiana’s 92 counties, 39 have a “medium” community level and the remaining 34 counties have a “high” community level, according to CDC numbers.

Of the 39 counties that have a “medium” community level, 10 counties have case numbers that exceed the 200 per 100,000 population threshold, even though their hospitalization numbers are under the benchmark. The other 29 Indiana counties with a “medium” level of spread exceed the 10 new COVID-19 hospital admissions per 100,000 population, but have case numbers under the 200 per 100,000 population threshold.

When Monroe County was classified as having “medium” community spread, in the first week of July, it was due to new hospital admissions, which had just edged past the 10 per 100,000 population threshold.

The 200 per 100,000 population benchmark translates to a rolling average of about 39.9 cases per day for Monroe County. For the last three months, the county has been oscillating between about 25 and 40 cases a day.

Case numbers this year are about double the numbers this time of year in 2021 and 2020, the first two years of the pandemic. Last year, it was towards the end of July that case numbers started trending clearly upward, and by the end of August had hit 40 cases a day.

Even for counties with a “low” community level, the CDC recommends the following:

  • Stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and boosters
  • Maintain improved ventilation throughout indoor spaces when possible
  • Follow CDC recommendations for isolation and quarantine, including getting tested if you are exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19
  • If you are immunocompromised or high risk for severe disease:
    – Have a plan for rapid testing if needed (e.g., having home tests or access to testing)
    – Talk to your healthcare provider about whether you are a candidate
    for treatments like oral antivirals, PrEP, and monoclonal antibodies

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