EVANSVILLE — Vanderburgh County reported three new deaths related to COVID-19 Tuesday and Warrick County reported one more, according to the Indiana State Department of Health's statewide dashboard of cases.

It brings Vanderburgh County's total to 45 deaths and Warrick County to 58 deaths attributable to COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Vanderburgh County Health Department typically provides the ages and sexes of local residents who die due to COVID-19, but department administrator Joe Gries said Tuesday afternoon the local agency doesn't have access to the relevant state database because it has been inaccessible for most of the day.

Vanderburgh County also passed the 5,000-case threshold in COVID-19 cases on Tuesday, reporting a total of 5,056 — a one-day increase of 106 — since the first case emerged on March 19.

The new numbers — coming just four days after Vanderburgh County reported an all-time single-day high of 126 cases and four deaths, continue a trend of high case numbers in southwestern Indiana and the Tri-State region. Friday's report of 126 cases and four deaths was followed by another 95 cases on Saturday. Then, on Sunday, Vanderburgh County reported 106 cases and another death. Monday brought another 98 cases.

Vanderburgh's case total is up to 5,056 since the first known case emerged on March 19. Warrick County added 23 news cases Tuesday for a total of 1,742; Posey County added 14 for a total of 603; and Gibson County added 12 for a total of 756.

More: Coronavirus: State report lays out where clusters of Evansville cases came from | Webb

More: Evansville Mayor announces additional restrictions on gatherings

Within the other counties' numbers are worrisome trends.

Warrick County registers 16.9% of its cases in the school-age demographic of young people 0-19 years old. It is the largest single age group designation in Warrick County. People 20-29 years old register the next-highest percentage at 15.7%.

In no other area county do school-age cases rise above all other age groups as a percentage of total cases.

While Gibson County has tested a relatively small number of individuals, 6,262, its seven-day positivity rate for "unique individuals" is the highest in the region at 23.8%. It did tick downward Tuesday by a half-percentage point. Positivity rate is the percentage of people tested who come up positive for COVID-19.

Posey County is not far behind with a seven-day positivity rate for "unique individuals" of 22.3% — slightly more than a full percentage point higher than Monday's number.

By far the largest county in the region and leading the pack with 5,056 positive cases, Vanderburgh County clocks in with a seven-day positivity rate for unique individuals of 14.7%. That number is almost a full percentage point higher than Monday's figure.

All the numbers are higher than medical and health care professionals would like at the moment.

The region remains a hotbed in the state in terms of the rate at which the novel coronavirus, the cause of COVID-19, is spreading. Health officials have expressed concern over the sharp and continued rise of cases and the continued strain on medical resources.

Due to the rising numbers in Vanderburgh County, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke on Friday announced additional restrictions on gatherings. The current mandate is that organizers of any event of 500 or more must seek approval from the Vanderburgh County Health Department. New restrictions, in effect Oct. 19, lower that threshold to 125 or more.

Winnecke said this decision came after receiving data from local and state health officials about the spread at local public events. Local events that had multiple cases connected to them included funerals, a wedding and a sporting event.

The county-by-county rating system for quantifying risk is intended in part as a guide for school leaders on whether to keep students in classrooms. ISDH assigns counties scores based on the number of new cases per 100,000 residents and the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests.

Each county is designated a color, given the average of those numbers. The colors range from blue — least community spread — to yellow, orange and red for greater spread. The map is updated weekly.

In the entire state, Southwestern Indiana counties have some of the highest weekly cases per 100,000 population. Pike, the state's only "red" county, has 653 per 100,000 new weekly cases. Posey registers with 361, Vanderburgh with 284, Gibson and Warrick with 261, Spencer with 197 and Dubois with 196. That number is updated weekly.

Vanderburgh, Warrick, Spencer, Gibson, Posey and Dubois counties are all in "orange" on the state's risk map for the rate at which COVID-19 is spreading. Only Grant and Henry counties in Central Indiana were also in the "orange" on the ISDH's color-coded map which is updated weekly on Wednesdays.

In Vanderburgh County, the number of cases in the 20-29 age group remains the largest demographic of COVID-19 cases, although that number has been slowly dropping recently. It was 22.5% Tuesday.

The school-age demographic of children age 0-19 remains at 14.1% of all cases locally. That number also has dropped slightly in recent weeks, although it is still higher than the state's proportion of cases in the 0-19 age bracket at 13.2%.

A new online tool designed to help track COVID-19 in Indiana schools gave local residents their first glimpse at details about cases in EVSC and other local schools.

The COVID-19 school dashboard offered by ISDH is intended to give the number of cases in particular schools around the state and can be found at coronavirus.in.gov. Locally, it is the first historical snapshot of COVID-19 cases among students, teachers and staff.

On May 21 — when Vanderburgh County had just 228 COVID-19 cases in all — just 3% of cases involved individuals 19 or younger.

The ISDH dashboard now offers four separate figures for positivity rates. The "unique individuals" positivity rate for Vanderburgh Tuesday was 10.0% cumulatively and the seven-day rate, covering Sept. 30-Oct. 6, was 14.7%.

The "all tests" positivity rate was 4.8% cumulatively and 7.3% over the same seven-day period.

A total of 50,551 individuals in Vanderburgh County have been tested for COVID-19 since March 11, with 77,875 tests administered.

Local medical and health officials convened in late September to warn the public that COVID-19 remains a serious threat despite Indiana moving to Stage 5, the final phase of reopening, Sept. 26. Among their warnings: Get your flu shot now, if possible.
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