The Journal Gazette
 
 
Thursday, January 06, 2022 1:00 am

Holidays create county-record 1,244 new cases

ROSA SALTER RODRIGUEZ | The Journal Gazette

Allen County health officials Wednesday reported a record number of new COVID-19 cases – more than double the number of cases reported just one day earlier.

An additional 1,244 residents were reported Wednesday as testing positive. The previous one-day high was 651 new cases reported Dec. 31. On Tuesday, 548 new cases were reported.

However, some of Wednesday's new cases result from adding together cases found over several days, said Matt LeBlanc, Allen County Department of Health spokesman. 

The vast majority of Wednesday's cases come from Dec. 30, while a small percentage were from as early as Dec. 21, with reporting affected partly by the Christmas and New Year's holidays.

Dr. Matthew Sutter, Allen County health commissioner, said residents should expect disruptions in schools and workplaces because of the surge in cases. He said the spike likely results from the spread of the omicron variant of the virus, although it's still unknown whether the variant is present in Allen County.

The state's COVID-19 tracking website Wednesday showed known omicron infections in Indiana jumped to 52.5% as of Dec. 20 from 16.5% as of the week before and just under 1% the week before that.

“Early reports suggest that omicron is spreading more rapidly because of its ability to evade the immune system and a more rapid onset of disease,” Sutter said.

But the state tests only a small percentage of cases for omicron through gene sequencing, and there is “significant delay in getting results back, so it is impossible to know for sure whether this current surge is omicron, but it's very likely,” he said.

The delta variant dropped nearly from 98.2% of sequenced cases to 80.2% and 46.9% during the time omicron was rising, state statistics show.

The surge in Allen County cases brings the county's total to 78,932. No new deaths were reported, leaving the county's total at 967.

The new cases were enough to have the county rejoin the red, or most serious, category on the state's color-coded map depicting COVID-19 spread. The map was updated Wednesday.

Besides Allen, DeKalb, LaGrange and Whitley counties are in red. The rest of northeast Indiana is now in the upper tier of orange, except Adams County, which is in the lower tier of orange. 

More than half of Indiana's counties – 48 – are in red. The rest are in orange, with all but five in the upper tier of orange. Last week, 27 counties had reached red status.

Sutter said he is “keeping a close eye on hospitalizations” because of the surge. Based on data from the United Kingdom, it appears that omicron is causing less severe disease, he said.

“However, because there could be many multiples more cases than with previous variants, we could still see a very large surge in hospitalizations,” Sutter said.

Hospitals in the state's District 3, which includes northeast Indiana, had 12.9% of intensive care unit beds available, or just over 30 beds. Statewide, 10.2% of beds were open, or about 200 beds.

Indiana reported 12,960 new cases Wednesday and 39 new deaths, bringing the totals to 1,299,480 cases and 18,644 confirmed deaths, plus 652 in patients based on symptoms but without a positive test.

The state's seven-day positivity rate Wednesday was 22.5%. Allen County's was 16.61%. Both of those numbers are above the level required for the red, or most serious category.

The positivity rate is a measure of how many tests are positive compared to the number of tests given.

LaGrange County has the highest positivity rate in northeast Indiana at 18.84%, although that number is down from last week's report.

rsalter@jg.net


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