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Half of Indiana counties labeled high-risk for virus spread

LIVE: Indiana officials give update on  COVID-19
Posted at 3:59 PM, Dec 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-30 15:59:55-05

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Nearly half of Indiana counties were rated with the highest risk level of coronavirus spread in Wednesday’s state update after state officials corrected a flaw in Indiana’s reporting.

The Indiana State Department of Health tracking map labeled 45 of the state’s 92 counties the most dangerous red category, up 21 from a week earlier. Forty-six other counties were in the next-riskiest orange rating of the four-level system, which is updated weekly. Only east-central Indiana’s Jay County was rated “moderate risk,” the first county in four weeks to enter the yellow category.

A software error has caused underreporting in statewide COVID-19 positivity rates and for individual counties since the pandemic began, the state’s health commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, announced last week.

The fix, published Wednesday, raised Indiana’s rate by 2.3 percentage points, bringing the reported positivity rate to 14.1% for all tests administered as of Dec. 22. Although Box previously said some smaller counties could see a decline in positivity rate after the changes, only six counties across the state recorded rates below 10%, a drop from 15 counties before the revisions.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and health officials were scheduled to expand on the new statistics during a Wednesday afternoon briefing.

The state health agency on Wednesday also added 109 confirmed COVID-19 deaths to the statewide toll. Those push Indiana’s toll to 8,160, including both confirmed and presumed infections, according to the agency’s daily statistic update.

With an additional 4,819 diagnosed cases reported Wednesday, the number of Indiana residents known to have had the coronavirus is now up to 505,017.

The state agency additionally reported that 2,941 residents were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Tuesday, 10 fewer patients than Monday.