Record numbers of COVID-19 cases reported in Indiana schools

Indiana schools reported more new COVID-19 cases last week than at any previous time during the pandemic as the state grapples with a surge in infections and hospitalizations spurred by the more contagious delta variant.

Posted: Aug 30, 2021 4:25 PM
Updated: Aug 31, 2021 7:09 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana schools reported more new COVID-19 cases last week than at any previous time during the pandemic as the state grapples with a surge in infections and hospitalizations spurred by the more contagious delta variant.

More than 5,500 new cases were reported among Indiana students in Monday’s weekly update of the state’s coronavirus school dashboard. Although nearly 1,000 of those cases date back to earlier weeks, last week’s total was the most recorded since schools began reporting case counts a year ago.

The dashboard also reported 257 new cases among teachers and 355 new cases among other school staff employees.

Schools reported more than 1,300 cases among K-12 students on Aug. 23 alone, marking the highest one-day total reported by Indiana schools.

Still, the dashboard data doesn’t provide the full scope of virus spread within schools, state health commissioner Kristina Box said last week. More than 1,200 schools have not reported cases to the state’s dashboard — as mandated by law — since the start of the new academic year.

Box said state health officials are talking with the Indiana Department of Education to take further actions that compel schools to comply.

As Indiana continues to record the worst statewide COVID-19 positivity rate since last winter, Box largely attributed the the latest statewide surge to the start of the new school year.

Having students in school together and participating in extracurricular activities is driving many of the new cases, she said, increasing the need for students, teachers and staff to wear masks and get vaccinated if they’re eligible to help decrease transmission.

State officials estimate less than 10% of K-12 schools are doing COVID-19 testing, however, despite available resources from the Indiana Department of Health. Box said health officials are urging additional COVID-19 testing be offered in school settings, which could help reduce quarantines.

But even after the U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine last week, just 52% of Indiana residents are fully vaccinated against the virus, according to the state Health Department. Only 27.5% of the state’s 12- to 15-year-olds, and just under 38% of 16- to 19-year-olds have been fully vaccinated.

Replies to surveys conducted by IUPUI, the Indiana Department of Health and the Indiana Department of Education in May and June found that fewer than half of parents in the state plan to get their children vaccinated against COVID-19, according to preliminary results released Monday.

The survey also found that 13% of parents want to wait and see the effects of the vaccine before inoculating their child, while 42.2% said they will not vaccinate their child, or will do so only if required.

Several of the state’s largest school districts in the Indianapolis area began requiring masks for indoor areas after starting the school year without them, reacting to a growing number of COVID-19 infections among students.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said he would continue his policy of allowing local officials to impose mask rules and other steps to stem the coronavirus spread even as several school boards have faced vocal — and sometimes misleading — opposition to such actions.

Box, too, maintained support for elected officials to make decisions about implementing restrictions and other mitigation measures, adding that the state continues to provide local leadership with recommendations on how to get out of the surge.

The state additionally recorded 2,916 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, following more than 20,000 new COVID-19 cases reported in Indiana last week.

The state Health Department’s latest report also showed that hospitals around the state were treating 2,221 patients for COVID-19 as of Sunday — the most since Jan. 21 and up more than five times for the state’s level of about 400 patients a day in early July.

Hospitals reported treating 587 people with COVID-19 in intensive care units, taking up nearly 27% of available ICU beds, compared with about 65 patients in 3% of ICU space in early July.

___

Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1663364

Reported Deaths: 27810
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook63054211157
DuPage1073121374
Will905601118
Lake794341074
Kane67913866
Winnebago40662558
Madison39811590
St. Clair36119591
McHenry34360321
Champaign26817195
Peoria26730368
Sangamon25584283
McLean22826216
Tazewell20506330
Rock Island18679358
Kankakee17763246
Kendall16074112
Macon15178250
LaSalle14943285
Vermilion14137198
Adams13055152
DeKalb12056133
Williamson11989174
Whiteside8228180
Jackson805794
Boone785683
Coles7823121
Ogle751087
Grundy730385
Franklin7267113
Knox7176169
Clinton7080102
Macoupin6877104
Marion6857143
Henry659076
Effingham654499
Jefferson6477142
Livingston593297
Stephenson576392
Woodford572692
Randolph551299
Christian530082
Monroe5229100
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Morgan502598
Logan491474
Montgomery486179
Lee476060
Bureau440789
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Perry430274
Fayette428163
Iroquois417077
McDonough371160
Shelby341847
Jersey333953
Crawford329230
Lawrence327732
Douglas324037
Union304948
Wayne299161
Richland278257
White277733
Hancock271835
Cass264230
Clark264039
Pike262357
Clay256753
Bond254524
Edgar254549
Warren242265
Ford241858
Carroll235138
Moultrie227633
Johnson223531
Wabash216119
Jo Daviess214129
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De Witt204130
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Mercer201735
Piatt199814
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Jasper160121
Marshall140721
Hamilton132922
Brown10589
Schuyler105510
Pulaski103311
Edwards102517
Stark80928
Gallatin7848
Alexander71012
Scott7106
Henderson69614
Calhoun6832
Hardin59216
Putnam5594
Pope5436
Unassigned1662433
Out of IL100

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 994079

Reported Deaths: 16225
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1340942097
Lake657221150
Allen57000791
Hamilton45877460
St. Joseph43856606
Elkhart35467502
Vanderburgh31922473
Tippecanoe27644256
Johnson24778440
Hendricks23603353
Porter22676362
Madison18488404
Clark18336248
Vigo17227300
Monroe15089197
LaPorte14957249
Delaware14916255
Howard14547286
Kosciusko12115147
Hancock11562175
Bartholomew11413179
Warrick11205188
Floyd10966214
Wayne10812247
Grant9850216
Morgan9346176
Boone8793115
Dubois8194129
Dearborn813092
Henry8098149
Noble7911105
Marshall7767134
Cass7451119
Lawrence7368168
Shelby7085114
Jackson689887
Gibson6468113
Harrison639691
Huntington628799
Knox6262105
DeKalb621796
Montgomery6166109
Miami584894
Putnam572177
Clinton564571
Whitley556355
Steuben548772
Wabash5229101
Jasper517675
Jefferson504095
Ripley491684
Adams471373
Daviess4586112
Scott432968
Greene420496
Wells418087
Clay417060
White413461
Decatur4104101
Fayette401286
Jennings382060
Posey373643
Washington351048
LaGrange350978
Randolph339399
Spencer335842
Fountain331058
Sullivan326352
Starke309968
Owen309369
Fulton303166
Orange289762
Jay277144
Perry263552
Franklin261642
Carroll257632
Rush256732
Vermillion253554
Parke229126
Pike227143
Tipton224959
Blackford187040
Pulaski180354
Crawford157522
Newton155148
Benton150117
Brown142747
Martin137119
Switzerland133411
Warren119916
Union106315
Ohio83912
Unassigned0531