CHICAGO (CBS) — The seven-day average number of COVID-19 cases in Indiana has more than doubled in the past three weeks, and, in Lake County, that number is the highest it has been since the start of the pandemic.
The continued rise in new virus cases in Indiana prompted Gov. Eric Holcomb to announce Wednesday he is extending the state’s current capacity limits for restaurants and bars and other restrictions for at least another two weeks. The state’s health director, Dr. Kristina Box, warned that anothe surge of cases could come in the fall with the start of the regular flu season.
“Every Hoosier has a role to play,” said Box. “That means wearing your mask in public, and when you can’t socially distance outside.” She said Hoosiers who have been exposed to COVID-19, or who are feeling sick and are awaiting test results, need to stay home. “We all have a responsibility to do our part to keep our loved ones, our neighbors and friends safe. We cannot relax our guard.”
According to data from the Indiana state health department, the seven-day average for the state now stands at 619, up from about 300 cases on June 22. In Lake County, that number has peaked at 79, up from and average of 12 cases on June 16. The average number of tests has also been declining over the past three weeks, but has increased in the past few days, the data showed.
In Lake County, the average positive test rate had dipped on about 6% in early June, but has since jumped to 9% now. That test rate is an indicator of the spread of the coronavirus, which casuses the COVID-19 disease. Experts say a positivity rate of under 5% is desirable.
Here are the updated numbers:
🔹 Total positive cases: 53,370
🔹 Total deaths: 2,592
🔹 Tests reported to ISDH: 586,589
— Indiana State Department of Health (@StateHealthIN) July 15, 2020
In terms of demographics, Hoosiers between the ages of 20-29 now have the highest share of infections, both statewide and in Lake County. All of these increases come after the state expanded access to bars and restaurants and as people enjoyed group activities on the Fourth of July holiday. All of those behaviors are considered by experts to have the highest risk of contracting COVID-19. These numbers also come one month before the start of school, which could cause cases to rise even further.
Another statistic that is cause for concern: The number of hospitalizations has been rising over the past few weeks, from 595 in late June to 881 as of Tuesday. The state says 35% of its intensive care unit beds are available, as well as 84% of ventilators to treat the most severely ill patients.
Holcomb first delayed lifting the state’s capacity limits two weeks ago due to the recent uptick in virus cases in Indiana. His decision to delay the next stage of reopening for two more weeks means Indiana restaurants will continue to be allowed 75% capacity in their dining rooms, while bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys, museums and movie theaters can be open at half capacity.
The state will also continue its current 250-person limit on social gatherings unless health officials have approved safety plans for those gatherings.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CBS News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)