INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Half of Indiana’s counties are now in the highest-risk level of COVID-19 spread as the latest infection surge across the state has pushed hospitalizations from the illness up 25% in the past week.
The weekly risk assessment from the Indiana Department of Health released Wednesday placed 46 of the state’s 92 counties in the highest-risk red category, with all but one other in the next-highest orange category.
Nearly all counties in the state’s northern one-third have red ratings, including Fort Wayne’s Allen County and South Bend’s St. Joseph County. Southwestern Indiana around Evansville has another pocket of red-rated counties.
The number of highest-risk counties is the highest Indiana has seen since the state’s worst COVID-19 surge last winter when 73 counties had red ratings in early January. The state listed just three counties with red ratings at the beginning of November.
Indiana hospitals reported about 2,750 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday. That number has more than doubled in the past four weeks, putting a strain on hospitals across the state.
The COVID-19 hospitalizations are now higher than Indiana’s summer surge that peaked in September and is approaching the pandemic peak reached in late 2020. A top Indiana hospital official said this week the current surge might not peak for another month.
The surge has also pushed up Indiana’s average of COVID-19 deaths to more than 30 per day after it was below five a day in July.