INDIANAPOLIS — The four-county area recorded 11 more deaths from COVID-19 recently, as statewide virus activity has begun to increase again as the state heads deeper into the cold-weather months.

The improvement that the state was seeing coming out of the delta-variant-driven surge that peaked in September is now clearly over, as the start has started on the upswing again for cases and hospitalizations connected to the virus.

This past week, Indiana averaged 3,039 cases of COVID-19 per day, a 70% increase compared to the week prior, when the state was averaging 1,790 per day.

Indiana has now seen increasing case counts for three consecutive weeks, although the previous two weeks were increased of about 10% and 4%, making this week’s jump a significant acceleration.

And unlike the last few weeks, hospitalizations are up again, rising from 1,209 patients in treatment a week ago to 1,376 as of Tuesday, a 13.8% increase.

Average daily deaths almost unchanged, dropping slightly to 23 per day from 24 per day a week ago.

Deaths tend to lag as an indicator, moving last of any other metric, as deaths typically occur days or weeks after hospitalization, which typically occurs days or weeks after a person first becomes ill. If cases and hospitalizations continue rising as they have in recent weeks, expect deaths to start rising again, too, in the near future.

Locally, the four-county area logged 11 more deaths in total, with five recorded in Steuben County, four in Noble County and one each in DeKalb and LaGrange counties.

In Steuben County, the five new deaths have all occurred this month, on Nov. 1, 7, 10, 12 and 13. The county now sits at 83 deaths all time.

In Noble County, the four new deaths take the county to 114 overall, with deaths occurring on Oct. 30 and Nov. 5, 6, and 10.

In DeKalb County, the one new death takes the county to 103 all-time, with the new death occurring on Nov. 15.

And in LaGrange County, the new death occurred on Nov. 10, taking that count to 88 overall.

Age demographics for the deceased are not available this week, due to a discrepancy in percentages displayed on the dashboard. After being consistent for months, this week, the percentages have changed compared to a week ago — whether due to some kind of display error or error in the underlying data used to generate the dashboard — resulting in totals that are widely different compared to past weeks.

Prior to this week, those percentages have been consistent week to week, suggesting this week’s rates are an error and therefore cannot be accurately compared.

The Indiana Department of Health did not immediately respond to a request to clarify the statistics.

What is clear from this week’s data, however, is that Indiana is in the midst of another rise in COVID-19 activity.

The delta variant of COVID-19 still continues to be the dominant strain identified in samples tested by the state — 97.5% of samples sequences are the delta variant — and appears to be making a comeback this month.

Indiana had gone through about a two-and-a-half-month surge caused by the delta variant this summer, until case numbers peaked in mid-September. After that, cases, hospitalizations and deaths had been in decline for about a month and a half until the start of November when that progress flat-lined before changing direction upward again.

Indiana has seen its vaccination numbers stagnate, although the state has been giving out vaccines to children age 5-11, who just became eligible for smaller doses of Pfizer vaccine as compared to adults, as well as distributing thousands of boosters to high-risk individuals who are seeking them out.

About half of Indiana’s total population is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but rates are significantly lower in the four-county area. Steuben County is best at 42%, followed by DeKalb County at 38%, Noble County at 37% and LaGrange County at just 21%.

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