CHICAGO (CBS) -- Cases of COVID-19 in Lake County, Indiana continued to surge, with another 101 infections reported to the Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday. The seven-day average case number continues to be at levels well above the rates seen before the state issued lockdown orders in March.
As the numbers in Northwest Indiana and across the state continue to rise, Gov. Eric Holcomb issued a state-wide mask wearing mandate, reversing his past policy of leaving that decision up to the states.
The county reported two additional deaths, bringing that toll to 258. A total of 6,379 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported, out of 52,831 tests since the start of the outbreak, for a positivity rate of 12%. The World Health Organization recommends a rate of 5% in order to best make decisions on reopening and mitigate spread of the virus.
The seven-day moving average of cases in Lake County, a measure used to help account for a single daily spike in cases, stands at 79, well above rates seen back in April. The county was at its lowest point in mid June with an average case number just below 30. The trendline mirrors a surge across the state as Indiana has been consistently reporting some of its highest case counts over the past 10 days since April.
Here is a look at the positive case trend in Lake County:
Area school superintendents are paying close attention to those numbers, as classes are scheduled to begin in just about three weeks. Districts are offering a choice of in-class and remote learning options for students. In Hammond, Superintendent Scott Miller told CBS 2 on Tuesday, "If the spread rate were to continue, I'll only speak for my own school system, but we would look at a full-time e-learning situation if they remain above 10% like they are right now," Miller said.
Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday said he would not set a statewide start day for all schools, leaving those decisions to local school districts. He said he respected some districts' decisions to start the year remotely but said he hoped that would only be temporary.
Cases among young people continue to rise, including among school age children. In the early stages of the outbreak, when children were home from school, their case numbers were quite low. However, the biggest increase comes in the 20 to 29 age group. Here is a breakdown of cases in Lake County by age and sex.
Young patients are overwhelmingly likely to recover for COVID-19. A large percentage of deaths is centered on patients over the age of 80. Here is a breakdown of deaths by age, according to state health department data.
Hospitalizations, which is a key metric watched by Gov. Holcomb's administration, are also increasing in Lake County. On July 13, there were 18 hospital admissions for COVID-19, including three in the intensive care unit, according to the Regenstrief Institute. Data since then is not considered reliable because it takes 3 to 5 days to gather it. That's the highest number since May 26 when 23 patients were hospitalized.
Statewide, Regenstrief reports a mortality rate of 5%, while 75% of COVID patients have recovered. That leave about 20,000 active cases of COVID-19 across the state.
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