US-NEWS-CORONAVIRUS-STRAINS-MCT

This transmission electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. 

Indiana set a single-day record of newly reported COVID-19 deaths following the Christmas holiday and a backlog of weekend reporting, state health officials said Tuesday.

The state on Monday reached its highest number of COVID-19 deaths in a single day, the Indiana State Department of Health said Tuesday, eclipsing the previous record of 143 deaths officials reported Dec. 22.

In Elkhart County, the seven-day average number of positive cases in a day continued to fall, to 84, a low not seen since the average was 75 cases on Oct. 10. It had risen to a high of 326 on Nov. 17. The Indiana State Department of Health said the county recorded 47 new cases, bringing the total to 22,425.

The county’s average positivity rate was up slightly, from 14.7 percent the previous day to 15.1 percent. The county also recorded one additional death, bringing that total to 310.

Most of the state’s newly recorded deaths occurred in the past week, with some dated to early December. Those deaths raised Indiana’s toll to 8,051, including victims with both confirmed and presumed infections.

The department’s daily update of its coronavirus dashboard also showed another 4,028 Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19. That brings the number of Indiana residents known to have had the coronavirus up to 500,282.

The state agency additionally reported that more than 20 percent of the 2,951 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Monday were in intensive care.

The new statistics come a day before officials are slated to release corrected COVID-19 data that is expected to change the state’s overall positivity rate and the metrics for individual counties.

Since the pandemic began, a software error has caused underreporting in statewide COVID-19 positivity rates and for individual counties, state health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said during a briefing last week on the state’s coronavirus response. The overall numbers of tests, positive cases and deaths remain accurate, she said.

Box predicted that the state’s positivity rate would be two to three percentage points higher once the issue is fixed. Indiana’s rate, which runs a week behind, was reported at 11.8 percent for all tests administered as of Dec. 22.

The corrected data will be published Wednesday in time for the state’s weekly update of county labeling. While the county-level impacts will vary, Box expects some smaller counties will see a decline in positivity rate after the changes.

Because the state uses a county’s positivity rate to determine which community restrictions that county should face, the corrected methodology could mean some Hoosiers will see loosened regulations, including gathering sizes, business capacities and school operations.

To date, 2,613,675 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 2,605,669 on Monday, the department said. A total of 5,585,093 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

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