County rankings Sept. 9

DeKalb and LaGrange counties dropped a level in the statewide COVID-19 county metrics rating system from a week ago, showing improvement in the local situation. Noble and Steuben counties were unchanged as, overall, the situation improved across the state with more counties dropping to blue grade indicating low spread.

INDIANAPOLIS — DeKalb and LaGrange counties both received better scores in this week’s statewide COVID-19 ratings.

In the second week of the statewide county metrics, DeKalb County improved from an orange rating to yellow, while LaGrange County went from yellow to blue, the best rating possible. Noble and Steuben counties remained at a yellow rating.

A yellow rating indicates “moderate” spread of COVID-19 in the community, with guidance to local schools to consider pulling back on some larger gatherings as an effort to slow person-to-person transmission.

Blue indicates “low” spread of COVID-19 and, while not a clearance to abandon best practices, show that infection rates are low in the community.

DeKalb County was one of just seven counties rated orange last week, although that caveat came with a note that the county was seeing a large number of cases from a congregate setting and not necessarily from the wider community.

Overall, Indiana showed improvement statewide this week compared to Sept. 2 across its 92 counties.

There were no counties rated red, showing high spread, down from one last week. The county had the same number of counties in the orange at seven, but yellow counties dropped to 39 from 44 and blue counties increased from 40 to 46.

The county metrics map is aimed at being a quick reference tool for Hoosiers to gauge what the risk level in their county might be on any given week and whether the situation is changing week to week.

When asked on Wednesday whether they felt the map might be instilling a false sense of security among Hoosiers, as most counties are in the good range, Gov. Eric Holcomb and Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said they hope it’s being used as one of several resources for people to use in their decision-making process.

“We are showing when individual counties are heading a direction they may not want to be,” Box said.

“These serve as a radar and it’s not the only information you want to consume,” Holcomb said.

Indiana passed 100,000 known cases of COVID-19 all time this past weekend and while case counts and testing have gone up recently and stayed up, the state’s health system has not been overwhelmed and Hoosiers continue to manage the problem.

On Wednesday, Holcomb called crossing the 100,000 threshold “inevitable” in a time before a widely available, effective vaccine becomes available, but encouraged Hoosiers to continue to doing what they can to keep those numbers from growing at much faster rates.

Every case, from a mild one to one that results in death, takes a toll on real people, their families and their livelihoods.

“Our job is to be as prepared as we humanly can be,” Holcomb said. “It is sad, yes. It’s just as sad today as it was on that first day when we had our first loss of life and press conference.

“We have to continue to be prepared and execute the plan we have in place and it requires everyone on the team playing by the same rules,” Holcomb said, adding he was proud of everyday Hoosiers, businesses and organizations that have pitched in to do their part to slow the spread.

The impact of COVID-19 is bigger than 100,000 Hoosiers, although determining exactly how widespread the virus has gotten over the past six months is still something of a question mark.

Early in the state’s pandemic response, researchers from the IUPUI Fairbanks School of Public Health determined that, in April, only about 3% of Hoosiers had come into contact with COVID-19 and that testing, at that time, was only finding about one in every 11 actual cases.

As testing has increased substantially since those early days of the state’s response and as testing has expanded to people with mild symptoms or even no symptoms, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said she’s sure the state is capturing more of the overall cases, although many asymptomatic cases are still likely going undetected.

As asymptomatic carriers are still a known spreader of the virus, Box said the best advice today is the same as it was six months ago — wash your hands, practice social distancing, wear a mask and stay home from work or school if you’re sick.

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