ANDERSON – Madison County’s move to a yellow advisory level on the state’s coronavirus dashboard Wednesday wasn’t completely unexpected and doesn’t necessarily represent an increase in cases locally, the county’s health department administrator said.
According to the Indiana Data Hub, positivity rates for COVID-19 in the county had risen to 6.37%, a spike Madison County Health Department administrator Stephenie Grimes-Mellinger said could be attributed in part to recent Fourth of July gatherings.
“I’m not really surprised,” she said. “I thought the holiday may advance us a little bit in terms of our color, but I was just really hoping it wouldn’t happen. To be quite honest, the cases are not alarmingly higher than they were weeks ago. It’s just the positivity rate is higher.”
That rate, she noted, is calculated based on the percentage of all tests on a given day coming back positive for COVID-19. Fewer tests given on a certain day would presumably yield fewer positive results.
“If you have a group of people who are sick and they’re having symptoms and they come in and get tested, 6% of them have COVID, the rest of them have something else, to put it simply,” Grimes-Mellinger said. “While the positivity rate is important, we still have to look at community spread. Right now, the cases haven’t increased to an alarming amount per 24-hour period.”
Grimes-Mellinger said the yellow advisory level status doesn’t change the health department’s current recommendations regarding hygiene practices, social distancing and large gatherings.
With most schools in the county set to welcome back students in the next month for in-person instruction, Grimes-Mellinger said she will continue to confer with area superintendents to keep them updated with the latest information.
“I’m hoping it’s just a blip on our radar, and I’m hoping within the next week or two we’ll be back to blue,” she said. “If it’s indicated that it’s low community spread, I think we’re all a little more comfortable, but when we jump up to a yellow, it just makes us a little more anxious. My hope is we go back to blue and we’re able to start school with less stress.”