Indiana health officials concerned with positivity rate uptick, young adult cases and schools reopening

Published: Jul. 8, 2020 at 5:50 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) -Over the weekend, Indiana saw its highest new daily number of cases since late May.

With more tests being done, the positivity rate has also increased.

Back in the middle of June, the 7-day average positivity rate was at 4.1%

In recent weeks, the positivity rate has ticked up and is currently at 5.9%.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says that ideally the state wants to see the positivity rate below 5% and that herd immunity could be tough to meet.

“We’ve seen that creep up as we’ve seen it in some pockets across the state,” Dr Box said. “That can be a sign that we are seeing more actual outbreaks, more actual cases, not just related to the number of people that we’re testing. So that positivity rate is something that we really hang our hat on and look at. Even in individuals that develop immunity, develop antibodies, unfortunately many of those antibodies are disappearing very quickly. So the concern there is that it doesn’t matter how many we expose, we are not probably going to develop herd immunity. Unfortunately we may just end up with a lot more individuals that have severe consequences or die from this.”

Governor Holcomb says it’s important for everyone to focus on their own behavior to make an impact right now instead of waiting for a vaccine.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there was the mindset that the virus only affected the most vulnerable, the elderly.

But now as restrictions ease across the country, cases among young people are spiking.

We've all seen the videos in recent weeks of large gathering among young adults including just this past weekend at Diamond Lake.

Here in Indiana, people under the age of 40 account for just under 40% of total positive cases.

But 92% of the deaths across the state are people who were 60 years and older.

It’s with those numbers that health officials are urging young adults to be careful this summer and think of everyone else.

“Young adults and even teenagers are very passionate about the things that they care about,” Dr. Box said. “They will stand up for what is right. We have to be able to give them the message in a way that they understand that it’s critical that they are the difference in whether those infections are brought home to maybe their mom that works in a long term care facility or their grandma who has underlying health conditions.

“We gotta get out to the broad citizenry and connect with each Hoosier,” Gov. Holcomb said. “That may mean college student athletes saying, ‘if you want to watch me play football or basketball, mask up!‘”

We’ve already seen some of those messages to wear a mask popping up on Notre Dame Athletics social media accounts.

Back in Early June, the Indiana Department of Education released its plans to safely reopen schools for this upcoming school year.

Now, the state is releasing new details of ways students and staff can be protected.

The state currently has 472 school corporations, charter schools and private schools participating in a PPE program.

The state has 3 million masks available for children so that every child can receiver more than one reusable face mask.

There will also be 500 adult face masks given to each school corporation and 10 gallons of hand sanitizer.

“We’re going to do what we can to try to support schools so that they can stay open,” Dr Box. said. “We think that’s important not only for the educational experience of our students but for their mental and physical health also.

“We’re going to be at this for a while,” Gov. Holcomb said. “This is not one day’s numbers or one report. This is going to be over the course of the rest of the year and beyond potentially. That’s why we’ll continue to and what I’m pleased about is that we have these connections and relationships with all 92 counties, health departments and schools and with the department of education. All the partners are there that we’re going to have to make one off decisions throughout this whole process.”

It was also announced to today that the Fun Park at the State Fairgrounds will be canceled due to an increase in coronavirus cases.

It had been planned for July 31 through September 7.

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