ELKHART — The Elkhart County record for new confirmed cases of COVID-19 recorded in a day has been broken, according to state data reported Thursday.
The previous record was set on June 17, with 112 cases. On Thursday, 131 new case were reported by the Indiana State Department of Health, all of them recorded on Wednesday.
Also reported were 726 administered tests from an unspecified number of individuals. That is a higher-than-usual number of tests for one day, as the average over the last 30 days has been 581. The average number of new cases in the last 30 days is 49. The county has now had a total of 7,305 confirmed cases.
“Elkhart County is in the middle of a large, troubling spike in the number of COVID-19 cases,” Elkhart County Health Officer Dr. Lydia Mertz said in a statement. “We have seen a steady increase in new cases since the middle of September, and there is no sign of a leveling off or a decrease in these cases.”
Indiana as a whole also reported all-time record Thursday for the number of COVID-19 cases in one day, as 1,487 cases were recorded Wednesday. The previous record was 1,481, on Oct. 1. The state has now had 129,677 confirmed cases and 3,515 deaths.
Elkhart County’s seven-day average is nearing a record as well, as the number of new cases has been growing over the past month. The seven-day average is now at 73 new cases per day, just short of the record of 78 in mid-June.
“We actually are almost at the same level we were at when we were a national ‘hot spot,’” Mertz said.
Elkhart County’s positive test rate for individuals continues to increase, hitting 16.5 percent on Oct. 1, which is the latest date not to be considered preliminary for the positive test rate. The rate was 9.7 percent on Sept. 20.
There were two new COVID-19 deaths reported in Elkhart County on Thursday, bringing the local total to 120. There have been 19 deaths in the last 30 days, which is fewer than when the coronavirus was taking the most lives locally, one per day, in July and the first half of August. However, deaths have become more frequent in recent weeks, and experts say deaths tend to happen several weeks after a person is infected.
COVID-19 has had its largest impact on seniors, as 94.2 percent of Elkhart County residents who have died were 60 years or older, while 57.5 percent were 80 or older. No local residents 29 or younger have died from COVID-19. Data showing how the virus is affecting residents’ long-term health in other ways than death is not available.
“It appears some people are thinking we no longer need to wear masks, distance, wash hands, or stay home when sick,” Mertz said. “Most of us are tired of living with the changes the coronavirus has required us to make, and want to take a break from all that. However, the coronavirus is not tired of us. It continues to spread to susceptible people, causing illness in both those with pre-existing conditions and in otherwise young, healthy people.”
Mertz warned that pandemics are often measured in years, not weeks, months or seasons.
“I urge everyone to strengthen your resolve to make this community a safe place to live, and to protect those most defenseless to the effects of the coronavirus infection,” she said.