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Monday, March 1, 2021

Hogsett wants a regional approach to COVID-19

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Some COVID-19 health metrics have started trending upward in Marion County, and Mayor Joe Hogsett said during an Oct. 29 update he would like to get leaders from surrounding counties to develop a regional approach to the pandemic.

Marion County public health orders haven’t changed since late September, but the county’s positivity rate, new cases per day and emergency room visits have worsened since then.

The positivity rate, which health officials want to keep below 5%, is at a seven-day average of 7%. Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine warned the county will have to move backward in reopening if the positivity rate reaches 10%. She encouraged everyone to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing during Halloween, students’ fall break and while waiting in line to vote.

There have been a little more than 200 new cases per day recently, compared to around 100 at the end of September. The health department’s goal is to be under 35. The county is also seeing about 27 emergency room visits per day, up from 18 at the end of September.

Hospitalizations have been mostly steady at 8.5 per day. The number of deaths per day has ticked up slightly, but the county is still averaging less than two per day.

The trends in Marion County are similar to what’s happening in surrounding counties. Shelby and Hendricks counties have doubled the number of cases per 100,000 residents in only two weeks.

That’s why Hogsett said it’s important to develop a more regional approach, given how much intercounty travel there is for work, high school sports, etc.

The health department is encouraging asymptomatic people to get tested and participate in contact tracing efforts, which would give officials a better understanding how the virus spreads. Caine said for every person who tests positive, there are 10 others who have the virus but don’t know it.

The demographics of who contracts COVID-19 are starting to shift. Those in the 0-19 age category have made up about 14% of cases in October, compared to 20% in September. There has also been a decrease for those in the 20-30 range.

One age group’s gain is another’s loss, though, as the county has seen an increase in the share of cases that belong to those 40 and older. 

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

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