INDIANA — Clark County has topped 1,000 COVID-19 cases since testing began in March and Floyd County is nearing 700, according to Indiana State Department of Health data reported Friday.
The most recent update, which reflects numbers as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday, shows there have been 1,023 cases of the disease caused by the novel coronavirus identified among Clark County residents to date, 29 new from the previous day. Floyd County residents made up 658 of the state’s cases, 24 new.
Clark County’s rolling seven-day positive rate as of July 24 was 7.8%, with a cumulative positive rate of 8.8%. The Clark County Health Department reported 52 deaths among residents as of July 31; 11,588 people have been tested.
The seven-day rolling positive rate among Floyd County residents is higher at 11.3%, but the cumulative rate is 8.1%. There have been 8,126 Floyd County residents tested.
Local health departments reported 52 deaths among Clark County residents as of July 31 and 44 among Floyd County residents as of July 28.
Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said he’s seen increased activity — there were 15 patients being treated at Clark Memorial Health as of mid-week — compared to being down to two in June. But he doesn’t see activity as high as it was when the first cases were showing up in March and April.
“Do I think it’s dramatically increased since like a March or April scenario? No, but there are definitely some things we’re watching,” he said.
This includes things like upcoming fall events and students going back to school, although, he said, he believes the schools have good plans in place to mitigate spread and respond if cases occur. Most Greater Clark County Schools went back on Wednesday but Jeffersonville High School has been delayed two weeks after several people tested positive before classes began.
On Friday, parents at Charlestown High School were alerted to a case there; the health department is working with the school on contact tracing and deep-cleaning protocol. Yazel said the school cases have not been unexpected and won’t be the last, but that officials are doing what is appropriate to mitigate the spread to keep students safe.
Southern Indiana and the state as a whole have seen a decline in daily cases since the peak in spring — Clark County saw a decline for 10 consecutive weeks through June. Yazel said he believed that a decline would continue until fall and didn’t expect to hit the 1,000 quite so soon.
“I really thought it was going to continue to trickle out and we might get a two- or three-month break, and when the fall colder weather hit, start to see this second wave,” he said.
Yazel said the increase may be due to things like summer activities, including the 4th of July holiday and travel to hot spots, just after the numbers had gone down.
“I think what happened is we never truly cleared the first wave,” he said. “We didn’t change anything with what we were doing and I think Indiana’s plan was fine. I think a lot of us just thought we’d see enough of a decline to take a deep breathe and that just didn’t pan out.
“[But] I think we’re doing fine. I think the schools have good plans, I think the masks and common sense when you’re out in public, I think we’ll see the rate slow down again. I just want to make sure that we keep our programs up.”
This includes a state-sponsored free testing site in Clarksville, which was approved last week to double its capacity. Since then, Yazel said there have been roughly 300 patients each day.
The initial decline in cases has been attributed in part to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order issued in late March. The reopening stage remains at 4.5 of the five stages for the time being, and Holcomb recently issued a separate mandate for masks to be worn in public when socially distancing cannot be observed.
Yazel said he hopes the increased mask use and continued public education can contribute to a slowdown in cases again, although he knows it won’t stop them completely.
“It slows our case rate down some, sure,” he said. “Is it going to go to zero three weeks after we start this mask mandate? I don’t think that’s realistic. [But] We’ve kind of plateaued off again and we’ll start to see another 10-, 12-week decline is what I hope.”
“There’s going to be a lot of pressure for big fall events and that’s one thing we’re going to have to watch carefully, that we don’t take our foot off the gas too soon.”
Statewide, there were 912 new cases reported among Hoosiers on Friday, of the total 66,154 in the state. There have been 2,765 deaths and 926,406 tests administered to 747,383 individuals.
The state’s seven-day rolling positive rate was 7% as of July 24 with a cumulative 8.9% positive rate since testing began in March.