County rankings Sept. 16

Noble County improved to the blue, while LaGrange County went up a level back to yellow in this week’s COVID-19 county metrics. Steuben and DeKalb counties remained in the yellow, as the state overall showed improved again this week.

INDIANAPOLIS — Noble County improved to the blue showing low community spread of COVID-19 while LaGrange County ticked up a level in this week’s county rankings from the Indiana State Department of Health.

The changes came amid a week in which the state overall saw improvement, with most counties showing only low or moderate spread of COVID-19.

The weekly ratings from the County Metrics map at the Indiana State Health Department COVID-19 dashboard showed that Noble County improved from yellow to blue this week. The county received one point for having 37 cases per 10,000 residents, higher than the state wants to see for its best rating, but had a low positivity return of just about 3%. Averaged together, that score put Noble County into the best rating this week after it spent the first two weeks of rating in the yellow range.

LaGrange County, which was in the blue last week, bumped up a level to yellow. Although the county had the lowest case rate in the four-county area at just 20 new cases per 10,000, its positivity rate was around 7%, putting it into the “moderate” category.

Steuben and DeKalb counties were unchanged from last week, both remaining in the yellow. Steuben has received a yellow rating all three weeks so far, while DeKalb County has been there the last two weeks after opening in the first week in the orange, albeit due to a high number of cases from a nursing home outbreak.

Locally, DeKalb County is on the verge of cracking back into the orange based on recent data, with 80 cases per 10,000 over the last week of a positivity rate of 9%. The county would rise into the orange again if both cases topped 100 per 10,000 and positivity inched over 10%.

Steuben County also had a larger case count over the past week, with a per capita rate of 75 cases per 10,000, but its positivity rate was much lower at just over 5%, putting it in little danger of crossing into the orange grade. With a little improvement in its positivity rate, Steuben County could drop into the blue in the near future if its testing returns drop below that 5% mark.

Yellow ratings indicate “moderate” spread and come with guidance for schools and other organizations to consider restricting some larger gatherings where social distancing isn’t possible. The state recommends that schools can keep operating in-person classes at this level as long as preventative measures are kept up.

The blue rating shows “low” spread, with no additional restrictions or precautions suggested although with encouragement to keep up interventions such as mask usage, social distancing and good hygiene.

Overall as a state, Indiana showed improvement again this week, with the state again having no counties in the worst red category and improving to just two in the orange, down from seven in the first two weeks of the scoring.

Yellow counties were up a bit to 42 from 39 the week before, partly attributable to improvement from orange-level counties the week before, while the number of blue counties also rose from 46 last week to 48 this week.

“This is a big improvement over where we started,” Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said Wednesday.

Indiana hasn’t seen much of a change in average cases per day, still averaging about 850 per day thus far in September, which is comparable to the August average, however positivity has dropped slightly and death rates, which did tick up a bit on average during the beginning of the month may again be smoothing out.

The full statewide rankings this week can be found at coronavirus.in.gov under the County Metrics tab.

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