Montgomery County is expected to move into the red zone today on the state’s color-coded COVID-19 map and will remain at the highest risk level over the holidays, the county’s health department announced.
The red level means that indoor and outdoor social gatherings that cannot be canceled are limited to 25 people, according to an executive order from Gov. Eric Holcomb. The statewide mask order remains in effect. The health department strongly encouraged residents to wear a mask and maintain at least six feet of distance — or about two arms’ length — around people they don’t live with.
Masks are required for employees and customers in all businesses and in restaurants and bars when not eating or drinking. Restaurants and retailers were strongly encouraged to promote phone or online ordering for curbside pickup.
Attendance will be limited at school sporting events to participants, support personnel and students’ parents, guardians, siblings and other minor children of the parent or guardian, according to the guidelines.
The Crawfordsville Parks & Recreation Department canceled all senior activities while the community center remains open at limited capacity.
Religious services are exempt from the social gathering limits, but churches were urged to hold virtual services.
The color-coded status is based on a seven-day infection rate over 200 cases per 100,000 individuals and a seven-day average positivity rate greater than 15%.
Montgomery County’s infection rate currently stands at 800 cases per 100,000 people and the positivity rate is 18.7%.
The county has to meet the required metrics for two consecutive weeks to move out of the red, meaning the restrictions will stay in place through at least Jan. 6.
December has been the worst month for new coronavirus infections in Montgomery County since the pandemic began, according to data from the Indiana State Department of Health.
As of midnight Tuesday, 932 new cases have been reported, up from a record 915 cases in November.
The number of deaths so far this month has increased to 13, up from six in November. Most of the latest deaths are tied to an outbreak at The Lane House, where 11 residents have died from COVID-19 since Dec. 7, according to the county health department. The outbreak has affected most of the residents, the department added.
Sixteen of the county’s 42 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in the past 30 days, the county health department said, representing 38% of the total.
The county added 18 new cases Tuesday, bringing the overall total to 2,579. No additional deaths were reported.
Nearly one fifth of the nation’s hospitals with intensive care units reported that at least 95 percent of their ICU beds were full in the week ending Dec. 17, according to the New York Times. Using the latest data reported by hospitals to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the newspaper published a map showing nationwide hospital capacity.
Franciscan Health Crawfordsville had three ICU beds available, according to the map. Health officials stressed that occupancy levels may have changed. The dataset does not specifically include the number of nurses on hand to treat patients in the ICU, which can limit the number of available beds.
The two hospitals in Lafayette, Franciscan and IU Health Arnett, reported 12 available ICU beds combined.
No beds were available in the ICU unit at Ascension St. Vincent Williamsport and there were seven available at Witham Health Services in Lebanon.
Across the state line in Danville, Illinois, O.S.F. Sacred Heart Medical Center had 13 ICU beds available.
Health officials said the data should not discourage people from seeking medical care.