At its meeting on Thursday, Monroe County’s board of health didn’t make any changes to the health regulations that are meant to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
That means the end of the county’s mask mandate is still tied to hitting a target of 50 positive cases per week per 100,000 people in the county. That target for Monroe County translates into an average of about 10 cases a day.
The county is currently sitting at a daily case average of nearly 4 times the target.
The mask mandate requires people to wear a mask in indoor public places, unless they are actively eating and drinking, among other exceptions.
In light of the current increasing trend for positive cases, board of health members saw no reason to relax the mask requirement. That increasing trend has seen the rolling 7-day daily average just about double in about the last four weeks.
On Oct. 23 the rolling daily average was around 19 cases. By Thursday, that figure had increased to about 37 cases per day.
For Monroe County, the daily rolling average got as low as about 19 on Oct. 23. But based on data reported through Thursday is back up to 25. That includes a 3-point drop, when the 50 cases reported last week on Thursday dropped out of the rolling 7-day average calculated for today.
Monroe County’s indoor mask mandate, for the vaccinated and unvaccinated alike, will continue into November and possibly even beyond—until the county’s positive COVID-19 case numbers drop to fewer than 50 cases per week per 100,000 residents.
That was the unanimous vote of Monroe County’s board of health at its Thursday meeting.
The current regulation goes through the end of October. In the current regulation, a drop in positive case numbers below 50 cases per week per 100,000 residents is also a condition tied to an end to the mask mandate.
Responding to an emailed question from The B Square, county health administrator Penny Caudill said the exact wording of the new regulation was not yet determined.
The order itself says: “Critically, only 48.1 percent of eligible Hoosiers are fully vaccinated and Indiana ranks 38th of the 50 states with eligible individuals receiving at least a first dose vaccination.”
Monroe County’s numbers are slightly better, but not dramatically so.
About the county’s 55.4-percent vaccination rate, among those who are eligible, county health administrator Penny Caudill said she is concerned about the 45 percent of people who are still not vaccinated. She was speaking at Friday’s weekly press conference of local leaders on pandemic response.
Local officials will be taking advantage of the governor’s health order to continue holding government meetings electronically, on a video-conferencing platform, as they have for the last 16 months. County commissioner Lee Jones said at Friday’s press conference that through July, county meetings would be held electronically, not using a hybrid approach with in-person participation.
The Bloomington mayor’s office confirmed to The B Square on Friday afternoon that the city’s boards and commissions would meet electronically, unless noted otherwise in the meeting announcement.
The height of the red line is at 21.2 cases a day. That’s the daily average below which Monroe County needs to stay in order to remain in the “yellow” category for weekly cases per 100,000 residents, in the state’s dual-metric classification scheme. The “yellow” category goes from 10 to 100 weekly cases per 100,000. More than 100 cases per 100,000 would put Monroe County into the “orange” category. Even when combined with Monroe County’s best-possible score on positivity, an “orange” rating for cases per 100,000 would put Monroe County into the “yellow” category overall.
Friday’s report of 54 new cases of COVID-19 for Monroe County cases is the highest number since Feb. 3.
But the rate of fully vaccinated county residents that are being added to the daily total has risen in the last couple weeks, to around 500 per day. That’s after bumping along in the low 300s for about seven weeks.
According to Indiana University’s assistant vice president for strategic partnerships, Kirk White, another boost to the number of fully vaccinated county residents will come in early May. That increase will come when people who are being vaccinated at the university’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall start getting their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
The Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard for Friday (Sept. 11) shows 235 new confirmed positive cases for Monroe County. That’s three times the previous daily high of 83 on Sept. 4.
According to notes on the dashboard, the confirmed positive numbers reflect when the ISDH receives and confirms the report of a test as positive, not when the specimen for the test was drawn. Positivity rates are computed based on when the specimen was drawn.
Based on Friday’s dashboard, which shows large numbers of new tests that are dated several days earlier, it looks like some of the 235 new positive cases might have had their specimens drawn several days in the past.
Indiana University officials have said they are reporting all their data to the state.
Indiana University campus: Square Beacon file photo from April of statue of Herman B Wells, former chancellor of Indiana University.
Indiana University still wants all students to be tested for COVID-19 before they start classes in the fall.
The expectation of universal testing was part an update sent to Indiana University faculty and staff on Friday (July 24). It matched the message from the university’s assistant vice president for strategic partnerships, Kirk White, at Friday’s weekly press conference of community leaders.
The novel part of Friday’s announcement was the hybrid test-on-arrival approach that the university will take to getting all students tested.
In a press release issued late Wednesday afternoon, Monroe county’s health department said it’s investigating a spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases, after the state’s dashboard, updated every day at noon, showed 12 new cases for the county.