Indiana health officials on Saturday added 13 more coronavirus-related deaths to the state’s pandemic toll as the seven-day rolling average of new cases continued growing at record levels.
In Elkhart County, 85 new cases pushed the seven-day average number of cases reported daily to 49, a level not seen since July 25. No new deaths were reported, leaving the total in the county at 114.
Newly recorded deaths in Indiana lifted the state’s death toll to 3,669, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus cases, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. That is an increase of 92 deaths in the past week.
The agency reported about 1,400 new COVID-19 infections, pushing the seven-day average to 1,080 through Friday. That rolling average has grown about 30% since Sept. 24 and stands at the highest level since the outbreak began in mid-March.
Those increases come even as health experts say it could be weeks before the state sees any possible impact from Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision to lift most of Indiana’s restrictions on businesses and crowd sizes as of Sept. 26 while continuing the statewide mask mandate.
Holcomb this past week defended his decision as balancing lives and economic livelihoods.
“It means we need to hunker down in the areas where we see spread and that’s what we are doing,” Holcomb said.
State statistics show that Indiana hospitals were treating 911 COVID-19 patients on Friday — the eighth straight day that hospitalizations have topped 900. The last time the state saw such a long streak was in early August.
Democratic governor candidate Woody Myers, a physician and former state health commissioner, said the easing of precautions “was a huge mistake.”
“Hoosiers aren’t getting leadership from Gov. Holcomb, they’re getting someone afraid of governing in the midst of a pandemic,” Myers said.