corona update 5-5

ELKHART — The Indiana State Department of Health on Monday announced that 583 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus to 20,507.

A total of 1,151 Hoosiers have been confirmed to have died of COVID-19, an increase of 19 over the previous day, the report said.

In Elkhart County, one additional death was recorded, bringing the total number of local deaths to 13. The total number of cases in the county rose by 13 to 321, the state said.

From Friday through Monday, five COVID-19 deaths were reported in the county, creating the impression that the number of local deaths were increasing exponentially. But some of those deaths earlier, according to county Health Department spokesperson Melanie Sizemore. The cause of death for some individuals was not confirmed immediately, which caused a delay in the reporting.

“That’s why there was such a rise in numbers. So these aren’t necessarily new deaths,” Sizemore said.

As the number of reported deaths in Elkhart County surpassed 10 over the weekend, the ISDH released new information about the deceased’s demographics.

According to ISDH, all who died of the virus in Elkhart County were 60 or older. One was 65, four were 70-79, and eight were 80 or older. Six were women and seven were men. One was black and 12 were white.

Infections in the county are more evenly spread out across age groups, though the working-age population has the most confirmed cases. An estimated 74.4 percent of cases in the county are with people ages 20 through 69. Cases among those who are 70 or older make up 20.2 percent, while cases among those who are 19 or younger make up 5.3 percent.

That few cases are reported in children does not mean that it is safe to let children visit their grandparents or other seniors. According to Sizemore, the reason for the low number of cases among children is that they often do not get visibly sick even when they carry the virus. But they can still spread the virus to those who are more at risk.

Elkhart County may see its peak in positive cases around May 10, Sizemore said. However, that may be pushed back by the statewide stay-at-home order having expired and many residents going back to work this week.

“Given the fact that most people are going back to work today and some last week, we’ll probably see a spike soon,” Sizemore said Monday.

The Health Department is not recommending that local government leaders should devise their own stay-at-home orders.

“I think, at this point, they are probably not going to work,” Sizemore said. “People need to go back to work. They need to make money.”

The point of the stay-at-home order was not to bring the number of new cases to zero, but rather to make sure hospitals would not be overrun. From that perspective, the stay-at-home order was a success. As of Monday, 45.5 percent of ICU beds and 80.5 percent of ventilators were available at hospitals throughout the state, according to the ISDH.

“We’re hopeful that the spike in cases that will occur over the next couple of weeks and months won’t inundate the hospitals. We’re hopeful that we can still remain in control of it, but people are still going to get sick,” Sizemore said.

In addition to the 1,151 confirmed deaths caused by COVID-19 in Indiana, 113 probable COVID-19 deaths have been reported. Probable deaths are those for which a physician listed COVID-19 as a contributing cause based on X-rays, scans and other clinical symptoms but for which no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by ISDH and occurred over multiple days.

To date, 113,297 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 108,859 on Sunday.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

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