Weekly ratings Dec. 1

Statewide ratings for COVID-19 spread worsened again this week, with the four-county area remaining all red, the worst rating, for the second consecutive week.

INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 activity is still increasing, which means statewide virus spread ratings are continuing to worsen.

Indiana once again saw its overall county-level ratings worsen compared the week prior, while locally, the four-county area remains in red ratings, the worst on the scale representing “very high” spread of the virus.

Northeast Indiana continues to be among the state’s worst regions in terms of virus spread, although southwest Indiana has also appeared this week as another red spot.

Indiana saw the number of counties rated red for “very high” spread of the virus increase to 18 this week from 11 a week ago. Meanwhile, the state lost another yellow county representing “moderate” spread, falling from eight to seven this week.

The rest of the state remains in orange showing “high” spread, with no counties in blue, the best rating, for the second week in a row.

Locally, LaGrange, Steuben, Noble and DeKalb counties all remained in red again this week, the second consecutive week all four have been at the worst level together this fall. The local area is still holding some of the state’s higher positivity rates and highest per-capita case rates.

Counties earn a red rating if they exceed both 200 cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of 15%.

LaGrange County continues to hold the state’s highest positivity rate for the fifth consecutive week at 27.18%, a slight drop from 28.36% last week but still worst in the state. Cases came down after a spike last week, falling to 239 per 100,000 from 408 per 100,000 last week.

As for the state’s second-worst positivity rate, DeKalb County held onto that distinction for the third consecutive week, with 25.84% positivity, up from 22.91% a week ago. Cases came down a bit to 648 per 100,000 from 800 a week ago, but that’s still third-worst in the state behind on Huntington and Union counties.

Steuben County is also still seeing very high case rates at 560 per 100,000, which is down from 716 per 100,000 last week, but positivity was up to 19.24% from 17.21%.

In Noble County, cases dropped to 500 per 100,000 from 559 per 100,000 last week, but positivity was up slightly to 15.99% from 15.25%.

Although per-capita case counts dropped across all four counties, the improvement comes with the caveat that the data covers the week including the Thanksgiving holiday, which accounts for a drop in new positive cases as many testing sites and labs would have been closed for the holiday. The state typically sees a short-term drop centered around a holiday, before numbers return to normal levels reflective of the actual situation.

Indiana is in the midst of another late-fall rise in cases. Although it seems unlikely Indiana will hit marks close to the November-December-January stretch last year, when activity rocketed to its all-time worst points, the state is once again seeing rising cases and hospitalizations from the virus, currently at their third-highest levels ever.

Indiana is averaging more than 3,200 cases per day over the last seven days — again, that number is likely slightly depressed due to the holiday — while average daily deaths have risen again to about 33 per day.

Hospitalizations have continued shooting up, currently sitting at 2,244 total patients across the state admitted for treatment. That hospital census is up more than 1,000 in less than a month, after previously hitting a local low of 1,206 patients back on Nov. 6.

Indiana came out of a late-summer surge in mid-September and was seeing improvement for about six weeks until the start of November, at which point virus activity has taken a turn upward again.

Indiana remains one of the nation’s least-vaccinated states, with just over 50% of its total population fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Vaccine distribution to children age 5-11 is ongoing, with that young cohort just become eligible for shots within about the last month.

The state is also in the midst of giving out thousands of boosters per week to people who were previously fully vaccinated, in an effort to boost their defenses against the virus as efficacy of their shots may begin to fade after about six months.

While breakthrough cases can and do happen, the vast majority of new activity is still occurring among the state’s unvaccinated, with the split of new cases running consistently at about 80/20 even though the size of the vaccinated and unvaccinated groups are nearly equal. The ratio for hospitalizations is even more lopsided, holding at about 90/10.

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