Concord family medicine COVID-19 testing

A person gets tested for COVID-19 at Concord Family Medicine. Recent data show a decrease in the positive test rate.

ELKHART — The Elkhart County Health Officer, Dr. Lydia Mertz, announced Friday that the county’s COVID-19 positive test rate has gone down.

There is still a delay in getting test results back, and that is skewing the numbers, Mertz said, so the real positivity rate could change.

But by July 2, currently available data show the county’s positive test rate had dropped from 13.4 percent between June 21 and 27 to 9.6 percent from June 28 through July 2. The goal, according to Mertz, is to get below 5 percent.

“I was pleased to see that change since the public health mask order was issued,” Mertz said. “I hope to continue to see good results as the public realizes the need for masks to slow the spread of this virus, and can see in the data how effective this can be.”

The county’s mask mandate began on Tuesday, June 30, two days before the end of the period that the new numbers represent, but a recommendation to wear a mask in the county was issued weeks earlier.

Young population leads infections

Data show that younger residents of the county now have a plurality of the infections. Those in their 20s make up the single largest group of infections with 19.9 percent.

“We are still seeing a large number of younger persons testing positive, while fortunately being able to protect our older population,” Mertz said.

Senior citizens are less likely to survive a COVID-19 infection. According to the Indiana State Department of Health, 84.5 percent of the 58 COVID-19 deaths in Elkhart County by July 8 were among people who were 70 or older. The same group makes up 9.7 percent of infections in the county.

Elkhart County has seen an increase in deaths recently, with 13 deaths occurring in the first eight days of July, the Indiana State Department of Health said.

The drop in the county’s positivity rate, however, could mean that the Elkhart County will begin to see fewer deaths.

“As our positivity rates decrease, I anticipate fewer deaths, and will be watching this number closely,” Mertz said.

She pointed out that each resident can affect the whole county, so taking the virus seriously can help get the area back to normalcy faster.

“When you or I wear a mask in public, someone else will see it and also put on a mask. If we all work together, we can protect everyone. Please do your part to keep everyone safe,” Mertz said.

Thirty-nine new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Elkhart County were reported on Friday, making the total 3,470. One additional person was reported to have died of the virus, taking the county’s death total to 58. Also on Friday, 277 new tests were reported, making the total number of people tested in the county 25,233, with a 13.8 percent positive rate.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

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