ELKHART — Elkhart County’s weekly COVID-19 score is back to orange after a week of being red, according to state health officials. An advisory level that guides coronavirus restrictions remains red for at least another week.
Orange is the third-most severe of the four levels created by the state. While Elkhart County, at 232, still had more than the required 200 new cases per 100,000 residents last week to be considered red, the county’s positive test rate has fallen to levels not seen since October, and below the 15 percent threshold for a county to be considered red.
As of Jan. 13, the most recent date with non-preliminary positivity rate data, the seven-day positive test rate for all tests was 11.1 percent. The rate for all tests hit a high of 24.6 percent on Nov. 12.
When calculating the seven-day positivity rate for all individuals, the rate was 19.5 percent on Jan. 13. That is the lowest it has been since late October. The rate topped at 36.8 percent on Nov. 11.
The county’s advisory level remains red, as a lesser score is required for two consecutive weeks for the state to loosen its coronavirus-related restrictions in a county. That means gatherings remain limited to 25 people or fewer, and only participants, support personnel, guardians and siblings are allowed at school athletic events.
The seven-day average for new infections per day was at 66 as of Tuesday, which is the lowest since Oct. 6, though still about as high as during the worst parts of the first wave of the local outbreak in spring and summer. When the recent surge peaked in November, the seven-day average reached a high of 326 new cases per day.
Hospitalizations are down to levels that almost resemble what was happening before the surge in the fall. Elkhart General Hospital had 28 COVID-19 inpatients Wednesday, down from a high of about 90, and Goshen Hospital had 16 COVID-19 inpatients, down from a high of about 60.
COVID-19 deaths have also become less frequent, though more county residents are still dying from the virus than at any point before October, when 36 deaths occurred. In the last 30 days, 46 Elkhart County residents died from COVID-19, according to the Indiana State Department of Health, bringing the county’s total to 343. In November, more than 90 county residents died from the virus, and in December, the number was more than 70. So far in January, there have been 24 COVID-19 deaths in Elkhart County.