That’s good news, in terms of the state’s metrics for community disease spread. But it still leaves the county at about twice the number of daily cases needed for an automatic lifting of the indoor mask mandate.
The county’s board of health voted to extend the mask mandate at its meeting last week. The lifting of the mandate is not tied to a date, but to a specific benchmark. That benchmark corresponds to a rolling 7-day average of 10.6 cases a day, which is about half the current number.
The heights of the two red lines are set at 21.2 and 42.4 cases per day, which correspond to 100 and 200 cases per week per 100,000 residents in the county. Those are the benchmarks for the color-coded system used by the state to measure community spread.
The percentage of eligible Monroe County residents who have been vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic virus is still just under 60 percent.
At the current pace of vaccinations in the county, which is around 60 additional people a day, it will take another week or so to eke out the next few tenths of a point to get past the 60-percent milestone.
At Friday’s weekly news conference of local leaders on pandemic response, Monroe County’s department of health public information officer Kathy Hewett said about the remaining 40 percent of the eligible population, “We still have a ways to go.”
The long Labor Day weekend meant that on Tuesday at noon there were four days worth of fresh data updated to the state of Indiana’s COVID-19 dashboard. A note indicated hospitalization numbers for three of the days—Friday, Saturday, and Sunday—would be missing.
But Monday’s statewide hospitalization numbers came in at 2,518, which put the seven-day rolling average at 2,405. That’s the highest number since early January this year after a peak of over 3,200 in late November of 2020.
That’s consistent with the growing trend of hospitalizations in a more local area. At last Friday’s news conference of local leaders on pandemic response, Brian Shockney, who’s president of the IU Health south central region, shared a chart showing IU Health’s upward hospitalization trend.
Responding to an emailed question from The B Square earlier last week about the possibility that its current 2nd Street location might be kept open as a pandemic-only facility, after the new hospital on SR 46 is opened, an IU Health spokesperson wrote: “IU Health continues to focus on the best ways to provide care for our patients. At this time, we are not planning to keep IU Health Bloomington Hospital on 2nd Street open to provide patient care once we move to the new hospital.”
In Monroe County, the case numbers look like they might have stabilized or even started to trend downward, based on just the numbers in September. But it’s not clear if that’s a trend or just the impact of the holiday weekend, which could have affected the number of tests that were done. The preliminary testing numbers, which could increase as they are updated, are still below typical weekend numbers.
But Monday’s full approval of Pfizer’s vaccine by the US Food and Drug Administration could mean that one concern people have cited about getting vaccinated will be relieved, Caudill said. That concern relates to the fact that the vaccine had up to now been administered only under an emergency use provision.
At a news conference last week, Indiana’s state health commissioner Kris Box sounded the alarm about the increased number of COVID-19 cases in the state due to the Delta variant.
“The Delta variant is now the one that we are seeing most frequently,” Box said.
The Delta variant, one of several mutations that have been discovered, is more easily transmitted than the basic COVID-19 virus.
When Box delivered her remarks, the state’s COVID-19 dashboard still showed the cumulative numbers for variants, ever since the genetic sequencing of positive samples started. That meant the relative proportion of the Delta variant was portrayed by the dashboard as still small—just 3 percent of positive samples.
But in recent weeks, since mid-June, the percentage of positive samples with the Delta variant has vacillated between 50 and 80 percent.
The state’s dashboard data presentation has now been revised to show the percentage of variants in the current month, with an indication of the change over the previous month. As of Friday, the Delta variant was found in 67 percent of positive COVID-19 samples for the current month.
Jack Davis, wearing his Election Day shirt and a lei, addresses the group assembled to honor his retirement on Thursday.
From left: Jack Davis and Hal Turner. Davis is receiving the 3-D printed toilet paper remembrance that Turner fabricated for him.
3-D printed remembrance on the occasion of Jack Davis’s retirement.
Monroe County’s clerk, Nicole Browne, told The B Square on Thursday afternoon: “There is no replacing a Jack. He is one-of-a-kind. He is amazing. And I will miss him every single day. Every single day.”
Browne was talking about Jack Davis, a county employee whose retirement was marked Thursday at a reception held by his colleagues at Election Central, where he has worked for the election division.
Thursday was the six-year anniversary of Davis’s most recent span of service in local government—he started that half-dozen year stretch on the same day as county election supervisor Karen Wheeler.
In the state of Indiana and Monroe County, the COVID-19 pandemic numbers continue to slide down the other side of the peaks that were climbed starting in mid- to late-October of 2020.
The most recent rolling 7-day daily averages for Indiana deaths (19), hospitalizations (1,274), confirmed positive cases(1,621) are the lowest the state has seen since mid-October. The same is true for confirmed positive cases in Monroe County (31).
Dispensing every drop of vaccine that they are allocated has become the main focus for local health officials. That’s the basic picture that emerged from Friday’s weekly news conference held by local officials on pandemic response.
Right now the main barrier to vaccinating more people is the amount of vaccine available. IU Health is currently allocated about 4,000 doses a week, and Monroe County’s clinic is getting around 800 doses a week. The current pace of full vaccinations—two doses are required—would put Monroe County at the 70-percent herd-immunity threshold around mid-November.
A member of Bloomington’s Seminary Park community on Dec. 8, 2020, who preferred not to be identified by name. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)
The view to the southwest of Seminary Park in Bloomington, on Dec. 8, 2020, from the corner of Walnut and 2nd streets. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)
A proposed policy change that would have prohibited camping or otherwise inhabiting Bloomington’s parks at any time, not just overnight, got just one vote of support at Tuesday’s meeting of the board of park commissioners.
Dissenting on the vote was Les Coyne, who was congratulated at the start of the meeting on concluding his 44 years of service as a park commissioner.