AUBURN — The DeKalb County Health Department on Thursday reported the ninth death of a DeKalb County resident who was positive for COVID-19.

The report came one day after health officials confirmed the county’s eighth death of a person infected with the coronavirus. The death reported Thursday marks the fifth in the county since Aug. 24.

The department no longer is releasing the ages or any other information about people who die while positive for COVID-19.

The Health Department also confirmed eight new cases of COVID-19 in DeKalb County residents. They are divided between teenagers and older people. They include two 15-year-olds, two 17-year-olds and patients who are age 58, 62 and two at age 74. All eight are recovering at their homes, a news release said.

They raise the county’s total to 403 cases since March and 52 so far in September. The county recorded one case in March, 19 in April, 18 in May, 121 in June, 56 in July and 137 in August. The current pace would reach 156 cases in September.

The health department recently issued an expanded set of guidelines for county residents:

• Masks are essential in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in asymptomatic people.

• Avoid groups where social distancing is not possible or is not being done.

• Keeping schools, restaurants and businesses open necessitates all of us teaming up and masking up.

• Lives can be saved and hospitalizations reduced through community teamwork.

• Please follow Gov. Eric Holcomb’s Executive Order requiring face masks in public settings.

• Continue to follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

Data from the Regenstrief Institute shows 43 DeKalb County residents have been hospitalized due to COVID-19, and increase of two from Wednesday’s report, with 12 admitted to intensive-care units, a decrease of two since Wednesday.

Noble County death reported

An ongoing spike in COVID-19 in the region continued Thursday as Noble County also recorded a new death.

That comes a day after both DeKalb and Steuben counties had new deaths and continues a three-week period that has resulted in more than a dozen deaths across the four-county area.

According the Indiana State Department of Health’s midday report on Thursday, the Noble County death occurred Tuesday and, based on demographic data provided by the state, the patient was a person 80 years old or older. No other information was available about the deceased.

To date in Noble County, 22 deaths have been among patients 80-plus; seven were in their 70s; one person was in his or her 60s and two people were in their 50s.

The last previous death in Noble County occurred Aug. 29. The majority of deaths in Noble County have been related to nursing homes, with 24 of the 32 deaths known to be from two facilities — Lutheran Life Villages in Kendallville and Sacred Heart Home in Avilla, according to the state’s long-term care dashboard.

Noble County had announced a new outbreak recently in the assisted living facility at Sacred Heart, although the state’s data has not reflected any new deaths to the facility as of Sept. 2.

DeKalb County has been battling a serious outbreak at a nursing home, The Laurels of DeKalb County, in Butler, although the health department has not officially connected any of the local deaths to the facility.

The state’s long-term care dashboard, which is current to Sept. 2, showed there had been fewer than five deaths at The Laurels as of last Wednesday.

The four-county area has seen a spike deaths over the last three weeks. Between July 14 and Aug. 18, the four counties combined for only one new death. However, since Aug. 19 there have been 13 new deaths across the four counties — five in DeKalb County, four in Steuben County, three in Noble County and one in LaGrange County.

Case counts locally have been higher recently, with the four counties combining to average about 20 new cases per day recently, up from and average of 12 per day back on Aug. 19.

Hospitalizations have been way up in DeKalb County with 15 patients admitted to hospitals since Aug. 21, according to the Regenstrief Institute. Steuben County had six admissions over the same period, Noble County had four and LaGrange County just one.

To date, about 18% of Hoosiers who have entered a hospital for COVID-19 have ended up dying there.

Statewide, new cases were up a little on Thursday compared to Wednesday at 758 total, although testing came down a bit from the day before. That resulted in an increased positivity rate for the day of 6.55%.

Local case counts increased by small margins Thursday, with Noble County adding three cases and Steuben and LaGrange counties adding two cases each.

No new deaths were reported in the other counties Thursday. LaGrange County remains at 11 and Steuben County at seven.

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