Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box updated the public on the number of COVID-19 cases in Indiana at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.
She also discussed the new indicators for the colors of the counties on the Indiana COVID-19 map and warned college students against gathering outside of classes.
The state map showing the severity of the COVID-19 presence in each Indiana county was changed this week to no longer include the percent change of the positivity rate from the previous week as an indicator of that status, Box said.
The map uses a color-coding system that includes blue, yellow, orange and red, with blue being the least restrictive regarding recommendations. Last week, the color assigned to each county used percent change as an indicator. Now, it uses the new cases per 100,000 residents and the percent of positivity. These two indicators are assigned a score of zero to three, with three being larger numbers, and then assigned a color based on that number.
The change in the positivity rate still shows up on the digital map when a user hovers over a county.
“The goal is to provide an easy to understand system that local and school officials can use to inform their decisions,” Box said. “The score does not trigger a requirement of action, but it provides information and recommendations.”
Monroe County is listed as a yellow county, which means the county received a score from 1 to 1.9. The recommendations provided for yellow counties, which are considered counties with moderate community spread, are to continue in-person schooling for all grade schools, not hold assemblies or activities if social distancing is not an option, consider limiting attendance at sporting events and to work with the local health department to determine if further precautions could stop the spread of the coronavirus in the county.
Later in the press conference, Box said universities have contributed to the amount of positive COVID-19 cases in Indiana, but she believes these cases have mainly developed because of off-campus activity.
“When we look at that we find that it has less to do with the going to class, getting your instruction and coming home," Box said. "It has everything to do with what you do after hours or on the weekends.”
Box said this is shown by the fact that elementary-aged students are not seeing as many cases as those who are 14 to 29 years old. She also encouraged parents to help their kids identify a small group of friends to hang out with, so the kids can have the social interaction they need but also help stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Box also said people should take socialdistancing measures during Labor Day weekend because Indiana saw a surge in COVID-19 patients after Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July .
“COVID can spread quickly in large gatherings, especially when people aren’t staying 6 feet apart and wearing masks. Please pay attention to that as you make your plans for Labor Day weekend,” Box said. “Make this weekend a safe one, Hoosiers.”