After surge in COVID-19 cases, Marion County plateauing as officials urge residents to get vaccinated

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS – Marion County saw an increase in COVID-19 cases within the last month, but the county is now plateauing.

That’s according to Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine.

The new case rate places Marion County in the middle of central Indiana counties despite its duties as host of the NCAA Tournament and its large population.

Even then, as he has stressed over the last year, Hogsett said residents should continue to protect themselves.

“We are not done yet—we’re close—but we’re not done yet,” Hogsett said.

“We must keep our guard up even as we make the effort to return. We’ve done a great job until now and we can hold large events safely if we follow the proper safety protocols.”

The mayor advocated simple personal health measures such as wearing masks, social distancing and getting the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Get your shot,” Hogsett urged.

Caine said the county experienced a surge in cases from late March to early April. However, she believes it’s plateauing because residents are following public safety guidelines during the pandemic.

As recently as a week ago, Marion County saw about 200 COVID-19 cases per day, Caine said, but Indy is on a downward trend, seeing about 152 cases a day.

According to Caine, the biggest increase in cases came among the college-age population.

COVID-19 emergency room visits increased in late March but have flattened in the last two weeks, she said.

Hogsett and Caine continued to discuss the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19. The county has a 21% vaccination rate among people 16 and up, which Caine noted was a long way from herd immunity.

Anyone 16 years and up who wants to get the vaccine can do so, Caine said, because there is an “ample supply” of it.

Older Marion County residents are leading the way in getting the vaccine, with over 50% of populations 65 and up having been vaccinated. The largest percent of residents who’ve gotten the shot are between 70 and 74.

Of the recent surge in cases, Caine doesn’t believe the NCAA Tournament contributed greatly to the increase in cases. Citing preliminary reports, Caine said less than 1% of those new cases traced directly back to the tournament. She attributed the increase to spring break and travel, noting that cases were surging in the college-age demographic.

Regarding the Indianapolis 500, Caine believes the race will not turn into a super-spreader event because it is being held outdoors. Outdoor events, she said, have a much lower chance of spreading COVID-19.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is allowing up to 40% capacity (about 135,000 fans) for this year’s race after last year’s event was postponed and held without any fans in the stands.

Caine said fans will have to practice the basics we’ve come to know during the pandemic: wearing masks, washing hands and engaging in social distancing.

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