The Journal Gazette
Thursday, April 22, 2021 1:00 am

Steuben, Whitley rise to orange for virus cases


Two northeast Indiana counties are back at the orange level, the second most serious, in the this week's Indiana Department of Health's color-coded map for COVID-19 risk.

Steuben and Whitley counties are both seeing between 100 and 199 weekly cases per 100,000 residents and a seven-day positivity rate between 10% and 14.9%. The positivity rate measures how many COVID-19 tests conducted in the last seven days have come back positive.

Allen County remains unchanged in the upper part of the yellow category, the second lowest, with a positivity rate between 5% to 9.9% and 10 to 99 new cases per 100,000 residents. Allen County's seven-day positivity rate stands at 8.46% and is rising, according to the state data.

Steuben has Indiana's highest seven-day positivity rate, 11.42%, and that rate also rose in the most recent time period measured. Whitley's positivity rate, also rising and standing at 10.42%, is fourth-highest in the state.

Whitley County joins Elkhart and LaPorte counties as the only three to be in the upper part of orange status. The seven northern Indiana counties in orange are the only ones in that category in all of Indiana.

The new data mirror comments made this week by Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter. At a health department executive board meeting Monday, he said a surge of cases in Michigan may be moving south into Indiana.

The rising numbers of Michigan cases appears linked in part to the B117 variant of the virus discovered in the United Kingdom late last year, Sutter said. Federal health officials said last week the variant appears more contagious and possibly more deadly but still susceptible to vaccines.

However, Sutter said, cases have been rising in Michigan despite a vaccination rate higher than Indiana's.

Steuben County's uptick in cases comes despite a fully vaccinated rate of 33.8%, the highest among northeastern Indiana counties. The county has 9,637 fully vaccinated residents.  

Other northeastern Indiana counties in yellow are DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange and Noble. Adams, Wabash and Wells counties are in the lowest-risk status, blue.

Statewide, 39 counties are in yellow, 46 are in blue and seven are in orange.

The state's seven-day positivity rate is 5.1%. Indiana added 1,116 new cases and 14 confirmed deaths Wednesday, bringing totals to 710,607 cases and 12,840 confirmed deaths, plus 408 probable deaths in patients with COVID-19 symptoms but without a positive test.

Allen County on Wednesday reported 55 new cases to bring its total to 39,461. One death was recently determined to have not been an Allen County resident, dropping total deaths to 672.

At a glance

Fully vaccinated residents

Adams: 7,163 (27.8%)

Allen: 85,899 (29.3%)

DeKalb: 8,466 (24.7%)

Huntington: 9,245 (31.3%)

Kosciusko: 15,053 (24%)

LaGrange: 5,128 (18.1%)

Noble: 8,895 (23.7%)

Steuben: 9,637 (33.8%)

Wabash: 6,962 (27.4%)

Wells: 6,026 (27.2%)

Whitley: 7,794 (28.7%)

Source: Indiana Department of Health

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