County adds 3 COVID-19 deaths; total now 149

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HANCOCK COUNTY — The county has added three COVID-19 fatalities in less than two weeks, raising its death toll from the novel coronavirus to 149.

The deaths occurred on July 11, 13 and 17. At least two of the victims were in their 50s, according to information from the Indiana State Department of Health. The age group of the third victim could not be determined.

They were the first COVID-19 deaths in the county since June 19.

For Hancock County health officer Dr. Gary Sharp and Craig Felty, vice president, chief operations officer and chief nursing officer for Hancock Regional Hospital, the recent deaths are a grim reminder that COVID-19 is still here and can still be dangerous.

While neither Sharp nor Felty knew whether the recent deaths were due to COVID-19’s more aggressive delta variant, it’s becoming much more of a concern.

Sharp said there’s no question that cases are rising because of it.

“Certainly nationwide and in Indiana it’s becoming the more dominant strain,” Sharp said. “It’s about seven to nine times more contagious than the original alpha strain, so I think that’s the reason we’re seeing more cases.”

So far this month, more than 70% of COVID-19 samples in Indiana have been the delta variant, a rise of nearly 40% from June, according to state health department data.

“A majority of the cases we’re seeing now are the delta variant,” Felty said. “The good thing is that it is still something that’s covered by the vaccines. It’s just that unfortunately it (the delta variant) can have a worse effect on the elderly and anybody who might have past medical problems.”

The average age of COVID-19 cases is also decreasing, Sharp said.

Those between the ages of 20 and 59 make up the biggest age groups of Hancock County’s COVID-19 cases, with each decade representing 15.5% to 16% each.

“I think, with school starting, we’re probably going to start to see even more in the younger age group, but fortunately they tend to get mild illness,” Sharp said.

Felty and Sharp emphasized the importance of getting vaccinated.

“The key here is get vaccinated,” Felty said. “I can’t stress that enough. Get vaccinated. It could literally be a decision that is life or death for you. … We don’t want people to die, and this is an unnecessary death.”

Felty said one of the county’s recent COVID-19 victims who died did not die at the hospital, but was hospitalized there not long before their death, and was not vaccinated.

“The percent of hospitalizations and the percent of deaths is significantly lower in vaccinated individuals,” Sharp said.

Indiana has recorded 132 COVID-19 so-called “breakthrough” hospitalizations — 0.005% of fully vaccinated individuals — and 46 breakthrough deaths — 0.002% of fully vaccinated individuals. The state has also recorded 2,720 breakthrough cases — 0.095% of fully vaccinated individuals.

“The vaccine is protecting from the delta variant, and those who have been vaccinated and still get COVID are showing more mild illnesses,” Felty said. “Very few of them need to be hospitalized, and there have been very, very few cases of deaths.”

Multiple locations in Hancock County, including the county health department, offer COVID-19 vaccinations. More information about where and how to get a shot is available at coronavirus.in.gov/vaccine.

Daily COVID-19 case totals for Hancock County remain low, with a seven-day moving average of five cases on Wednesday. Indiana’s seven-day moving average has been trending upward, and was at 543 on Wednesday.

Hancock County’s COVID-19 advisory level remains blue, the least severe. More than 40 Indiana counties are yellow, the second least severe. Four are orange, the second most severe.

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COVID-19 data through early Wednesday, July 21

Hancock County

  • 164 new tests administered (Feb. 10-July 20)
  • 6 new cases (July 10-20)
  • 4.4% seven-day (July 8-14) positivity rate all tests, 8.7% cumulative rate
  • 3 new deaths (July 11-17)
  • 117,476 total tests administered
  • 8,691 total cases
  • 6.6% seven-day (July 8-14) positivity rate unique individuals, 18.8% cumulative rate
  • 149 total deaths
  • 42,184 residents age 12 and older fully vaccinated (63.4% of eligible population)

Indiana

  • 16,444 new tests administered (April 17, 2020-July 20, 2021), 2,744 new individuals tested
  • 731 new cases (July 10-20)
  • 5.2% seven-day (July 8-14) positivity rate all tests, 8.4% cumulative rate
  • 7 new deaths (May 26-July 16)
  • 11,078,629 total tests administered
  • 3,639,990 total individuals tested
  • 762,837 total cases
  • 6.5% seven-day (July 8-14) positivity rate unique individuals, 21% cumulative rate
  • 13,536 total deaths
  • 428 total probable deaths
  • 63.7% ICU beds in use – non-COVID
  • 5.2% ICU beds in use – COVID
  • 31% ICU beds available
  • 19.7% ventilators in use – non-COVID
  • 1.6% ventilators in use – COVID
  • 78.7% ventilators available
  • Hospital census: 557 total COVID-19 patients (335 confirmed, 222 under investigation)
  • Delta variant: 70.3% of samples in July
  • Alpha variant: 15.6% of samples in July
  • Not variant of concern: 9.4% of samples in July
  • Gamma variant: 4.7% of samples in July
  • Beta variant: 0% of samples in July
  • Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children: 102 total confirmed cases
  • 2,908,343 fully vaccinated individuals age 12 and older (50% of eligible population)
  • 2,720 breakthrough cases (0.095% of fully vaccinated individuals)
  • 132 breakthrough hospitalizations (0.005% of fully vaccinated individuals)
  • 46 breakthrough deaths (0.002% of fully vaccinated individuals)
    • 91% of deaths occurred in those 65 and older
    • Average age of breakthrough deaths is 79 years old

Source: Indiana State Department of Health

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