After seeing improvement in COVID-19 activity throughout October, November brought another month of increasing activity with cases and hospitalizations rising again. Indiana State Department of Health image
After seeing improvement in COVID-19 activity throughout October, November brought another month of increasing activity with cases and hospitalizations rising again. Indiana State Department of Health image
INDIANAPOLIS — After an October full of improvement, November turned out to be another turning point in the struggle against COVID-19, with virus activity once again increasing.

Improvements that the state was making all October had flattened out by the end of that month, raising questions on whether it was just a temporary slowdown or a change in direction.

As November days ticked off the calendar it because clear that it was the latter, with the state ending the month at its third-highest levels ever, exceeded only by the late summer surge brought on by the delta variant and the huge winter peaks hit between November 2020 and January 2021 during last winter.

With colder weather settled across the state, COVID-19 bounced back against the Hoosier population.

Statewide cases averaged about 2,752 per day across the month of November, a 43% increase.

The monthly rate is better than the September daily average of 3,475 per day, when the state hits its delta-driven peak about mid-month and then improved for about two weeks. The monthly average is about the same as August’s rate, when Indiana averaged 2,727 cases per day in the heart of the last surge’s upward climb.

The monthly average positivity rate was up to 8.6% from 6.1% in October, as testing rates were similar to the month before with close to 32,000 tests per day averaged across the month.

All of the progress the state saw in clearing out hospital beds as people recovered or died from their illness was also erased in November, with the statewide hospital census going from 1,297 back up to 2,012 patients total in treatment at the end of the month.

It’s the only the third time ever the state has breached the 2,000 patient level for hospitalizations, with the previous two times coming during the two big surges in November 2020 and August 2021.

Statewide deaths did drop in November to about 28 Hoosiers dying per day, a slightly improvement from 33 per day in October. That being said, statewide deaths averaged 33 per day over the past seven days, so Indiana enters December much in the same place it left off.

Deaths are a lagging indicator, typically changing direction up or down about three to four weeks after other metrics like cases and hospitalizations start moving.

In total, the state recorded 836 deaths on the month, making November 2021 the seventh deadliest month of the pandemic.

Locally, the four-county area accounted for 27 of those deaths, with Noble County accounting for 11, Steuben County with eight, LaGrange County with five and DeKalb County with three.

At the end of the month, Noble County sits at 122 deaths all time, followed by DeKalb County with 107, LaGrange County with 90 and Steuben County at 87.

As Indiana closes out November, all of its indicators are currently increasing with no signs of flattening, meaning that December is likely to at least start much the same, with increasing virus activity.

What’s not increasing much at the end of November is the statewide vaccination rate. As of the end of the month, Indiana has about 50.6% of its total population fully vaccinated, a single percentage point increase from 49.6% as of Oct. 29.

However, that number is likely to tick up in December as vaccines were finally authorized for children age 5-11 and although shots started going out in November, most children didn’t have enough time elapse for their to get their second Pfizer dose and attain fully vaccinated status.

About 10.4% of the state’s nearly 609,000 youngsters age 5-11 have received a first dose so far, so Indiana will see its total population rate begin to rise this month as more of those kids get their second shots.

The state has also been distributing thousands of booster shots to adults looking to bolster their immunity. In November, boosters were OK’d for all adults regardless of age of health conditions, whereas previously boosters were only recommended for people 65 and older or people with serious health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe complications.

Indiana has seen rising breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals — just over 15,000 between Oct. 28 and Nov. 25 — with boosters being recommended for anyone who has had at least six months elapse since their initial dosing.

The state has also begun tracking reinfection cases, people who had COVID-19 once before and have contracted it a second time, with just over 5,100 of those cases logged between Sept. 1 and the end of November.

Statistics throughout the pandemic have shown that people who are vaccinated are less likely to contract the virus, as the majority of new cases occurring throughout the summer and fall were among the state’s unvaccinated cohort.

For vaccinated individuals who have experienced a breakthrough, hospitalization and death rates continue to be lower as compared to unvaccinated Hoosiers, even despite the state’s vaccinated population skewing much older than the unvaccinated half, with uptake of the shots highest among the state’s seniors.
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