INDIANAPOLIS — Almost all of Indiana continues to see high spread of COVID-19 this week, with statewide county rankings growing slightly worse compared to a week ago.
Right now, the only thing keeping most counties from earning the state’s worst red rating is positivity rates hanging below 15%.
This week, 88 of Indiana’s 92 counties are rated orange, representing high spread of COVID-19, or rated red, representing very high spread.
Once again, zero counties were rated blue representing low spread and just four remain in yellow for moderate spread.
It’s the ninth consecutive week that county-level ratings have worsened.
The local picture was unchanged from a week ago with Noble, DeKalb and Steuben counties all holding in orange, while LaGrange remains one of the last yellow counties in the state, although the county’s low testing rate may be more to credit as opposed to the county being actually better than its neighbors.
Local counties continue to see a sharp increase in case rates.
Noble County nearly doubled from a week ago with 615 cases per 100,000 residents identified, sharply up from 341 per 100,000 last week. Positivity was up slightly to 10.23% from 9.93% last week.
DeKalb County’s case rate was also up to 455 per 100,000, up from 305 per 100,000 last week, but positivity was down slightly at 10.88% compared to 11.34% last week.
In Steuben County, cases were up but not as sharply as elsewhere, rising to 381 per 100,000 from 335 per 100,000 last week. Positivity was up a little at 10.88% from 9.81% last week.
None of the three counties are in danger of going red at this time. While case counts are all well higher than the top-level 200 per 100,000 per capita rate, positivity would have to exceed 15% while staying at that case level to earn a red rating.
Likewise, counties are in no immediate range of dropping back to yellow either. Cases would have to drop below 200 per 100,000 with positivity less than 10% to make that grade, which none of the three are close to.
LaGrange County remains just one of four counties in the state still in yellow.
The per-capita case rate dropped a little to 83 per 100,000 from 90 per 100,000 last week, and positivity was down slightly to 9.68% from 11.39% last week.
LaGrange County’s lower rating may be partially due to the county’s history of doing very little testing. Historically, LaGrange County has the lowest per-capita testing rate among all Indiana’s 92 counties, by a lot. All-time about 24.2% of the county’s residents have been tested at least once, which is far lower than the next-lowest county, Brown County, at 33.3%.
LaGrange County also produces less than half as many tests as neighboring counties. LaGrange County is averaging 96 tests administered per day recently, less than the 256 per day in DeKalb County, 282 per day in Steuben County and 406 tests per day in Noble County.
The county’s positivity rate is similar to neighboring counties, so it’s likely if LaGrange County conducted more tests its per-capita case counts would also be higher.
Indiana has continued to see rising COVID-19 activity as the delta variant of the virus continues circulating around the state.
Indiana has averaged about 4,200 cases per day over the last seven days, total hospitalizations have risen to 2,294 patients total, and the state has averaged 25 deaths per day over the last week.
All of those are increases compared to a week ago.
Eighty-nine of the state’s 92 counties are seeing more than 200 cases per 100,000 residents, putting all of those in the “very high” range for case count.
Indiana’s vaccination rate has risen to about 55% of the eligible population age 12 and older, local vaccine rates continue to lag behind the state as a whole.
Steuben County is nearing 46% vaccination rate, followed by DeKalb County at about 41.5%, Noble County at 40% and LaGrange County last in the state just shy of 25%.
The delta variant has been leading to more breakthrough cases among vaccinated people, but the vast majority of new cases continue to be diagnosed among the state’s unvaccinated.
Last week, about 89% of new cases were diagnosed to unvaccinated Hoosiers, compared to 11% coming as breakthrough cases for people who have completed a shot regimen.
Among those vaccinated Hoosiers who do experience a breakthrough case, symptoms are generally milder. Hospitalization and death rates among vaccinated people who have a breakthrough are also less than half the rates for unvaccinated Hoosiers.