ELKHART — A multiweek backlog on COVID-19 test results for Elkhart County is no more.
The backlog appeared to peak in late July, as getting test results would often take 14 to 18 days, and 800 test results were pending. Now, the normal test processing time is three to five days, and the number of pending test results is down to a couple hundred, according to the Elkhart County Health Department.
Hospitalizations due to the coronavirus are also down since July 27, when county hospitals housed 37 COVID-19 patients. Elkhart General and Goshen Hospital now have 18 such patients, according to the latest available numbers. Elkhart General dropped from 25 to seven COVID-19 patients since July 27, while Goshen Hospital went from 12 to 11.
Also since July 27, 12 Elkhart County residents have died, bringing the county’s death count to 86 since the beginning of the local outbreak in March.
Despite a slight recent uptick in the number of new COVID-19 cases per day, the general trend since June 18 has been downward. At the peak in June, the county’s seven-day moving average of new cases per day was 78. As of Wednesday, the average was 40.
Data from the Indiana State Department of Health show that fewer Elkhart County residents have been getting tested in recent weeks, as the seven-day moving average for residents tested has dropped from 454 per day on July 17 to 270 on Aug. 5, which is the most recent date for which ISDH provides that data confidently.
The positive test rate has essentially been flat at about 8 percent to 9 percent in the same period, which is an improvement since late spring and early summer when the positivity rate was mostly around 15 percent in the county.
Testing remains readily available in Elkhart County, as ISDH is providing free testing in Elkhart and Goshen through August. The state has given the county a grant to continue the free testing into September.
After last week’s confusion over whether schools would start the year online or, as it turned out, in person to some extent, some residents have requested that the Health Department set a standard for how bad the outbreak in the county or in a certain school district would have to be for the county health officer to recommend schools drop in-person instruction.
Health Department spokesperson Melanie Sizemore said that kind of standard is included in each school district’s COVID-19 plan, which has been reviewed by the Health Department.
“So we will be working with individual school corporations to help them make those sorts of judgment calls,” Sizemore said.