INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 activity dropped a little compared to the week before, although the small decrease may be due to testing site closures and reporting lags attributable to the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Still, the rise in cases had been decelerating a bit even before the holiday, suggesting that Indiana might be approaching a peak or plateau in the delta variant-driven surge in cases.

Local deaths were also down, with two reported in the four-county area, a drop from five deaths last week.

This past week, Indiana averaged 3,985 cases per day, a 5% drop from a daily average of 4,212 per day last week.

Positivity, however, was unchanged at 8.9%, and testing was down about 2,500 test per day average compared to a week ago.

Whether the drop in cases is due to the state reaching a plateau or a side effect of the holiday weekend will take a week to sort out. However, even before the weekend, case numbers were increasing at a slower rate than previous weeks at only about 10% up, while the state had been seeing rises of 30% or higher for the previous seven weeks.

Hospitalizations have continued to rise, however, reaching 2,518 total patients in treatment for COVID-19. That’s a 13.4% increase compared to the week before, although a smaller increase than the 19.6% the previous week. Still, hospitalizations are at their highest point except for the all-time peak set in the winter between mid-November and mid-January.

Average daily deaths were down to 17.6 per day, down from 21.7 per day over the week prior. That’s still higher than 16.3 deaths per day average two weeks back. Death reports tend to lag over weekends and holidays, so the state may see an artificially larger number of new deaths reported during this week.

The weekly death toll across Indiana also included two more people from Noble County as the county nears 100 deaths all time.

The 97th and 98th deaths all time in Noble County occurred on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31 and were patients one over 80 years old and the other in their 70s.

To date in Noble County, one death has been among a resident in the 40s, six were people in their 50s, nine people in their 60s, 24 people in their 70s and 58 at 80 or older.

No other deaths were reported in the four-county area this past week. DeKalb County remains at 89 deaths all time, followed by LaGrange County with 73 and Steuben County with 64.

The state remains under siege by the highly infectious delta variant of COVID-19, which continues to be the dominant strain of the virus impacting Hoosiers.

The virus continues to circulate widely and rapidly through the state’s unvaccinated population, which makes up about 55% of the state’s total population.

The delta variant has been pushing even vaccinated Hoosiers harder — about 18% of new cases diagnosed were breakthroughs among vaccinated people — but hospitalization and death rates remain markedly lower for people who did have their vaccines as compared to those who didn’t.

Close to 4.5% of unvaccinated people who contract COVID-19 end up in a hospital bed, a rate three times higher than for vaccinated people experiencing a breakthrough case. Death rates among unvaccinated people are also higher, despite the cohort of unvaccinated Hoosiers being younger than the older, vaccinated group.

Locally, case numbers were down a little in Noble and Steuben counties, about the same in DeKalb County and up sharply in LaGrange County.

Since Aug. 31, Noble County added 245, down from 290 the week prior; DeKalb was up 196, nearly the same as 197 prior; Steuben recorded 116, down from 134; and LaGrange tallied 82 new cases, more than double the 31 it had the week prior.

While Indiana sits at about 55% of its eligible population fully vaccinated, northeast Indiana continues to lag with Steuben County at 46%, DeKalb County at 42%, Noble County at 40% and LaGrange County at 25%.

Northeast Indiana continues to fall farther behind the rest of the state as Indiana as a whole it outpacing each of the four counties in new shots given week to week.

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