The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, July 08, 2020 1:00 am

Cases fall, but local virus fight not over

New positives much lower than in June


New confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Allen County residents have been registering in the high teens to lower 30s each day since the beginning of July, health officials said Tuesday.

That's much lower than in recent weeks, but it doesn't mean the epidemic is over – or even weakening, they said.

“We definitely don't want anyone taking fewer cases for a day or two as permission to let their guard down,” said Megan Hubartt, spokeswoman for the Allen County Department of Health. “We know states around us are experiencing surges, and we need everyone in the community to continuing using the precautions we know work to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

An additional 15 Allen County residents were reported Tuesday as having tested positive for the virus. Those cases add to 35 new cases reported Monday; 27 reported Sunday; 18 on July 4; 25 on July 3; 15 on July 2; and 26 on July 1.

Throughout June, the daily case counts typically were between 30 and 60, officials said.

One reason for the lower daily numbers could be that fewer people were tested before and during the holiday weekend. But health department staff members can't be sure, Hubartt said.

One trend that has been continuing, however, is that those testing positive are getting younger, state health statistics show.

As of Monday, the age group with the largest percentage of Allen County cases is 20- to 39-year-olds, with 33.2% of cases.

Those ages 40 to 59 followed closely, with 32.9% of cases; those 60 to 69 had 10.7% of cases; those 70 to 79 had 7.3% of cases; and those 80 and older had 7.7% of cases.

As of the beginning of April, 66.7% of Allen County's confirmed coronavirus cases were in people older than 60.

The new cases come after a change in testing requirements that now allow anyone to get a test, regardless of whether the person is showing symptoms, is a necessary worker or is in a high-risk group because of age or a chronic medical condition.

The new cases also come after Gov. Eric Holcomb allowed the reopening of much of the state by moving to Stage 4 of the Back on Track plan June 12. Typically it takes two to three weeks after exposure before people are tested.

“Our cases have tended to go up after (reopenings),” Hubartt said. “We have seen a lot more going on and people out and about, and not seeing as many masks as we would like to see people using.”

Hospital capacity as well as the effectiveness of contact tracing are two major factors in whether Allen County health officials would advise mandatory masking, she said.

Unlike other areas of the state, the county has so far relied on voluntary compliance. Elkhart and LaPorte counties require facial coverings, and Indianapolis will require them beginning Thursday.

Allen County reported no deaths Tuesday, bringing its totals to 2,840 confirmed cases and 131 deaths. DeKalb County reported three cases Monday and two Tuesday but no deaths. That county's confirmed cases stand at 165 and deaths at four.

The two DeKalb cases reported Tuesday are in a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old, county health officials said.

“Please continue to follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines. Additionally, please continue to wear a face mask in public settings,” DeKalb officials said in an email.

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday announced 314 more confirmed COVID-19 cases and an additional 19 deaths.

That brings to 48,626 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the virus and to 2,524 the number of those confirmed to have died. An additional 193 Hoosiers are suspected of dying from COVID-19 without a positive test result.

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