ELKHART — Elkhart County’s seven-day average of daily COVID-19 infections has been cut in half in less than a month.
On May 3, the county’s seven-day average infections reached 65 per day, the highest point since January. But the number has descended ever since and hit 28 on Tuesday, according to Indiana State Department of Health data.
After the seven-day average was at its all-time high of 326 infections per day on Nov. 17, the number had been falling and reached a low of 19 in late February and early March. In March new and more contagious variants of the coronavirus were found in Elkhart, which health experts believe was a significant reason why COVID-19 began spreading faster again, reaching a peak of 65 cases per day in early May.
The decrease in the number of cases and positive test rate, which was above 10 percent in parts of April but is now at 6.2 percent, resulted in the county’s weekly COVID-19 score from the state being downgraded from orange, the second-most severe, to yellow, the second-least severe, last Wednesday. The county received a yellow score again this week, which caused its advisory level to be downgraded from orange to yellow as well.
Despite the positive trend for infections, there has been a slight increase in COVID-19 deaths this month. March and April, in which eight and nine county residents died from the disease, had the lowest number of COVID-19 deaths since April of 2020. May, still well below what was normal before vaccines became available, has seen 11 deaths. Deaths tend to occur weeks after infections, meaning that trends in deaths tend to lag what is happening with infections. There have been 448 COVID-19 deaths among Elkhart County residents since the beginning of the pandemic, according to ISDH.
COVID-19 hospitalizations, which also became more common during the spring after hitting a low point of just five countywide on March 1, have become rarer in recent weeks. There were 16 COVID-19 inpatients at Elkhart General Hospital and 10 at Goshen Hospital on Wednesday.
While the number of vaccines administered per day has declined across the state, which hit a high seven-day average of 56,130 on April 12 and is now at 23,057 doses per day, Elkhart County’s average has remained fairly stable around 800 doses per day, though the peak, on April 1, was 1,208.
Still, Elkhart County remains in the group of Indiana counties with relatively low vaccine uptake. As of Tuesday, 33.4 percent of residents who are 12 or older had been fully vaccinated, whereas the statewide figure is 42.4 percent. In St. Joseph County, which has the highest vaccine uptake north of Hamilton County (which leads the state at 58 percent), the figure is 48.2 percent. LaGrange County has the state’s lowest uptake, at 21.2 percent. LaGrange County’s seven-day average for doses administered is 45 per day.