Daily update Nov. 16

Noble County logged two new deaths since Saturday and Steuben County one as case counts continue trending higher and hospitalizations remain at record levels.

INDIANAPOLIS — COVID-19 has killed two more Noble County residents and one in Steuben County. The last report of an Allen County resident dying came Nov. 13, bringing the total to 262 deaths. Allen County listed 11 more deaths Nov. 12 and four others Nov. 11.

Meanwhile, statewide case counts, while down, are still trending higher week-to-week, which suggests that Indiana is likely to continue to see record-high cases as the week carries on.

The three new deaths in Noble and Steuben since Nov. 14 mean Noble County's all-time total has increased to 42, while Steuben County is up to 12.

Both of Noble County's deaths came in Nov. 16's report but actually occurred Nov. 14 and 15, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

According to demographic information, one of the people who died was in his or her 60s and the other was in his/her 70s.

To date, three people in their 50s have died in Noble County along with five people in their 60s, 10 people in their 70s and 24 at 80 or older.

Noble County has now recorded five deaths in November.

On Nov. 15, Steuben County reported its 12th death all-time.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health report, the death occurred Nov. 13 and was a person in his or her 70s, based on demographic data available.

It was the third death so far in November for Steuben County, with the others occurring Nov. 2 and 11.

Of the 12 total deaths in the county, four deaths have been people in their 60s, three deaths have been people in their 70s and five deaths have been among those 80 and older.

The four-county area of Noble, Steuben, DeKalb and LaGrange has now combined for 27 deaths total in the last 26 days.

LaGrange and DeKalb counties didn't have any new deaths since Nov. 14, remaining at 23 and 17 all-time, respectively.

The new deaths came on a day when case counts were lower than the recent record highs they've hit, but not a cause for celebration as they're still trending above where they were on the same day a week ago.

Because case counts usually run lower earlier in the week and higher in the end of the week, a same-day comparison week to week can reveal whether numbers are trending up, down or staying about the same and the current numbers show Indiana running higher than a week ago.

The state logged 6,710 new cases Nov. 15 and 5,147 in Nov. 16's report. Those are both over the same-day total last week, with 4,652 on Nov. 8 and 4,135 on Nov. 9.

Trends have held up in recent weeks that when the state runs high in the early days it carries through on the week, typically leading to new record highs on the back end of the workweek. Indiana hit an all-time high of more than 8,300 cases Nov. 14.

Both Nov. 15 and 16's big case counts also came with continually increase positivity rates — 12.58% Nov. 15 and 15.19% Nov. 16.

The state's benchmark goal for positivity is 5% and Indiana was under that around 4% in September, but has seen sharp increases since. So far in November, positivity has been under 10% just two days and both of those days were over 9%.

Statewide hospitalizations, a rising cause of concern for state and local health officials, continue to rise, hitting a new all-time record of 2,768 patients in treatment for COVID-19 statewide.

In state Health District 3, which includes the four-county area, Allen and Whitley counties and five others to the south of those, hospitalizations also rose to a record high of 387 total patients, nearly quadruple the number of patients Oct. 1.

Intensive care unit bed capacity across the state continues to decrease as well, down to 26% overall compared to 33% on Oct. 1.

Although that increase appears to be somewhat small, the change masks the proportion of COVID-19 patients that have gone up as hospitals have worked to maintain capacity be limiting other procedures for non-COVID patients in order to maintain bed space.

Statewide, the percentage of ICU patients admitted for COVID-19 has increased from 13% to 35%, while beds being utilized by non-COVID patients has dropped from 54% to 39%.

Capacity in Health District 3 has now shrunk to 16.2%, about half of what it was two months ago. The percentage of ICU patients admitted for COVID-19 has increased to 34%, while it was only 12% on Oct. 1. Local hospitals have seen a similar drop in non-COVID patients occupying beds as health systems work to maintain capacity.

The state recorded 22 deaths in Nov. 15's report and 26 in Nov. 16's report, although death numbers are usually at their highest on Tuesdays after a lag in reporting from the weekend.

Locally, case counts are still booming with no sign of slowing and positivity rates keep climbing.

In the last two days, Noble County passed 2,000 cases all time, adding 131 new cases — 90 on Nov. 15 and 41 on Nov. 16. DeKalb County also saw a large increase of 100 cases in two days — 65 on Nov. 15 and 35 on Nov. 16; Steuben County was up 50 cases and LaGrange County added 36.

Three out of four counties are likely to end up with red ratings from the county metrics map and the fourth is close, too.

Counties are designated red, the worst rating representing very high spread of the virus, if they exceed a per-capita new case rate of 200 cases per 100,000 residents in the past week and exceed 15% positivity.

As case counts in the region were already well over the 200 per 100,000 rate last week and have only gotten worse, positivity will be the trigger to set counties into red.

LaGrange County, which is already red, is almost certain to stay there with 30% positivity over the last week, while Steuben and DeKalb look like they're crossing the threshold to join LaGrange. Positivity in DeKalb County was 16.3% as of Nov. 16 while Steuben was 16.6%.

Noble County, which has seen the biggest case increases, may stay in orange only by virtue of its lower positivity rate due to higher testing averages. Although even that may be in doubt as positivity in Noble County is still climbing sitting at 13% as of Nov. 16.

As of Nov. 14, Gov. Eric Holcomb introduced new county-based restrictions for counties in orange and red ratings — which accounts for 87 of 92 counties as of right now — limiting gatherings to 50 people for counties in orange and 25 for counties in red among other changes.

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