INDIANAPOLIS — Steuben County remains one of Indiana’s hardest hit by COVID-19 recently, but other parts of the four-county area have shown some improvement in this week’s statewide ratings.
Overall, the state worsened a little bit again this week, with more counties in western and north-central Indiana showing additional COVID-19 spread.
Locally, Steuben County continues to boast some of the worst indicators in the state, posting the second-highest positivity rate among Indiana’s 92 counties again while also showing the fourth-highest number of cases per capita.
That earned the northeast corner county another orange rating for high spread of the virus, its fourth consecutive week at that level.
Steuben County’s per-capita case rate was mostly unchanged at 202 cases per 100,000, down slightly from 205 per 100,000 a week ago. Positivity was nearly the same too, rising a bit to 12.07% from 11.98% last week.
That positivity rate is second-highest in the state behind only Martin County at 14%, while the county’s case rate is only beat by LaPorte, Marshall and Jay counties this week.
While Steuben County was joined in orange last week by LaGrange County, its neighbor saw marked improvements across both metrics to push it back down to a yellow rating.
LaGrange County saw its case rate fall by half, dropping to 65 cases per 100,000 from 133 per 100,000 last week. Positivity also dipped considerably from a worst-in-the-state rate of 15.13% last week to 10.67% this week.
Elsewhere in the local region, Noble and DeKalb counties both remained yellow this week for moderate spread, although both are closer to achieving blue ratings for low spread.
Noble County saw a small increase in its case rate to 134 per 100,000 from 127 a week ago, while positivity was up slightly to 5.77% from 5.6% last week.
In DeKalb County, cases were similar at 121 per 100,000 compared to 126 per 100,000 last week, while positivity dipped again to 6.94% from 7.27% last week.
If those counties were to drop below 100 cases per 100,000 and have positivity fall below 5%, they would return to a blue rating, the state’s best.
Overall in Indiana the number of counties scored blue for low spread of coronavirus dropped again this week, decreasing to 41 from 47 last week. Yellow counties increased to 45 from 37 a week ago, but orange counties dropped slightly to six from eight. No counties are rated red, representing very high spread of the virus.
Northern Indiana still remains one of Indiana’s problem zones, with almost all counties near the northern border in orange or yellow. In previous weeks, all counties two deep from the north border were orange or yellow, but that streak was broken this week as Kosciusko County improved to blue.
State health leaders have noted that northern Indiana is likely seeing impact due to its proximity to Michigan, which has been suffering high COVID-19 spread as variants of the virus circulate among unprotected populations.
Indiana is approaching 2.2 million Hoosiers fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but the state’s vaccination rate has been slowing rapidly.
The state has gone from giving about 56,000 vaccines per day in early April to less than 32,000 per day lately, with the majority of those vaccines being second doses for people who had a first shot a month ago.
So far this week, only about 8,000 Hoosiers per day are first-timers getting a vaccine, whether it’s their first shot of a two-dose regimen or a single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
This week, federal regulators green-lighted vaccine distribution of the Pfizer shot to children ages 12-15, which will expand the opportunity for more people to get vaccinated.
In total, about 13.7% of Hoosiers age 16-19 have been fully vaccinated so far, although they’ve only been eligible for a little over a month now so numbers may tick up as more people come in to get second shots over the next few weeks.
That being said, uptake of the vaccine among Hoosiers under 60 years old remains at levels below 50%.