INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 cases are still being added in local counties, but the rate of increase continues to be slower than in recent weeks.
After a localized surge toward the beginning of the month, the region is now back in line with the state as a whole, which has seen decreases in COVID-19 for several weeks straight.
On Tuesday, the four-county region added 13 cases overall, with LaGrange County showing the largest increase compared to Monday.
LaGrange County added seven cases to increase to 456 overall, another single-day rise after numerous double-digit increases in prior weeks. Noble County increased three cases to 434 overall, while Steuben County was up two to 123 and DeKalb County increased one to 157.
No new deaths were reported in the region, with Noble County holding at 28, LaGrange County at six, DeKalb County at four and Steuben County at two.
Indiana as a whole posted a nearly dead-on average number on the final day of June at 366 new cases statewide. Across the 30-day month, the state averaged 367 cases per day.
That was a significant drop from the May per-day average of 531 and down from the April average of 523 cases per day.
Deaths were also on average for the final day of the month, logging in at 16 deaths statewide, matching the June average of 16 per day.
That daily average was also down in June from statewide averages of 30 deaths per day in May and 32 deaths daily in April.
Indiana hospitalizations have been in decline and hospital capacity has remained good, all signs that could allow the state to advance to the fifth and final step of its Back on Track reopening plan, originally forecast for Saturday, July 4.
In that stage, if Gov. Eric Holcomb green-lights that final step, Indiana would resume operations similar to pre-COVID-19 days with all businesses allowed to open and gatherings of all sizes allowed to take place again.
That being said, recommendations to wear a mask, socially distance from other people and limit exposure as much as possible are expected to continue for weeks and months beyond the final step of the reopening plan.
Northeast Indiana had been experiencing a short-term surge in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations from about mid-May to mid-June, but current data suggests that surge peaked about two weeks ago as COVID-19 activity in northeast Indiana has been in steady decline again.
Neighboring Elkhart County, which is located in a different state health district than the four-county area, is still continuing to battle rises in new cases. LaGrange County has been showing sharp rises in cases like its western neighbor, but activity in LaGrange County has slowed in recent days.
LaGrange County instituted a mandatory mask mandate for public spaces back on June 15, although state COVID-19 data shows that the situation had just about peaked at that time.
Mask adherence in northeast Indiana has been spotty. A KPC Media Group poll conducted on Facebook in recent weeks showed that more than half of respondents said they don’t wear masks in public.