INDIANAPOLIS — After recording 11 deaths a week earlier, the four-county area logged another 10 deaths from COVID-19 this past week, even as statewide death numbers have started coming down.
Despite having only about 2% of the population, the local area is accounting for more than 6% of the weekly deaths in the state recently.
Indiana is still seeing increasing COVID-19 activity heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, with cases and hospitalizations still rising across the state.
This past week, Indiana averaged 2,713 cases per day on the week, a slight decrease from the weekly average of 3,039 cases per day a week ago, which was boosted by a few big reporting days. Day-to-day, the state is still seeing an upward trend despite the drop in the weeklong average.
Another metric emblematic of increasing virus activity is in hospitalizations, which have risen from 1,376 total patients in treatment a week ago to 1,708 as of Tuesday, a 24% increase.
Average daily deaths were effectively unchanged, holding at about 23 per day, still significantly higher than when the state was seeing only two deaths per day at its lowest point back in July.
Deaths tend to lag as an indicator, moving last of any other metric, as deaths typically occur days or weeks after hospitalization, which typically occurs days or weeks after a person first becomes ill. If cases and hospitalizations continue rising as they have in recent weeks, expect deaths to start rising again, too, in the near future.
Where deaths aren’t lagging is locally, with another 10 deaths attributable to the virus recorded this past week.
Five of those deaths came in Noble County, with two each in DeKalb and Steuben counties and one in LaGrange County.
The five new deaths recorded in Noble County included two on Nov. 4 and two on Nov. 15, as well as one on Nov. 16, taking the county to 119 deaths total since March 2020.
To date in Noble County, two deaths have been among a resident in the 40s, seven were people in their 50s, 16 people in their 60s, 30 people in their 70s and 64 at 80 or older.
In DeKalb County, the two new deaths were both older but only updated recently, having occurred on Oct. 26 and Oct. 27. DeKalb County now sits at 105 deaths total.
To date, DeKalb County has had two deaths among patients in their 40s, seven deaths among people in their 50s, 10 deaths among people in their 60s, 27 deaths of patients in their 70s and 59 deaths at the 80-plus age group.
In Steuben County, the two new deaths occurred on Nov. 13 and 16, bringing that county to 85 overall.
Of the total deaths in Steuben County, two have been people in their 30s, one has been a person in his or her 40s, six have been people in their 50s, 19 have been people in their 60s, 24 deaths have been people in their 70s, and 33 deaths have been among those 80 and older.
And in LaGrange County, the new death occurred on Nov. 6, taking LaGrange to 89 deaths total.
To date, LaGrange County has had one death among people in their 40s, four deaths among people in their 50s, 12 deaths among people in their 60s, 26 among people in their 70s and 46 people who were 80 or older.
Age ranges of the new deaths this week can’t be determined due to a glitch in how death demographics were displaying on the state dashboard last week.
The state is at the stage of what appears to be another surge, right in time for the holidays.
Indiana had gone through about a two-and-a-half-month surge caused by the delta variant this summer, until case numbers peaked in mid-September. After that, cases, hospitalizations and deaths had been in decline for about a month and a half until the start of November.
This month, COVID-19 activity has again changed direction and started moving up again. Last year, November, December and January were the worst points of the pandemic with the state hitting record highs across all metrics.
The state is unlikely to repeat that feat this winter because about half of Hoosiers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as compared to last season where effectively no one was protected against the virus.
Still, the highly infectious delta variant of the virus has continued to rip through primarily the state’s unvaccinated population. Although the split of vaccinated vs. unvaccinated Hoosiers currently sits at about 50/50, the split in new cases remains about 80/20 skewed toward the unvaccinated.
Hoosiers who are vaccinated and experience a breakthrough or who had COVID-19 once before and have been reinfected a second time — the state has now logged more than 4,500 Hoosiers who have caught COVID a second time — are less likely to experience severe symptoms as compared to people who are not immunized.
About 50.3% of the state’s total population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, but rates are sharply lower in the four-county area.
Children younger than 5 years old can’t get vaccinated yet, while kids age 5-11 have only started being vaccinated and only a scant few have had enough time elapse to get a second dose and be considered fully vaccinated.
About 9% of the state’s nearly 609,000 youngsters age 5-11 have had a first dose of a vaccine.