Bartholomew County moved to ‘yellow’ on COVID-19 map, hospitalizations reach highest level in three months

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 at Columbus Regional Hospital reached its highest level in nearly three months as the local death toll from the virus continues to rise.

On Tuesday, there were 16 people hospitalized at CRH with COVID-19 the highest daily total since Feb. 23 according to a weekly update from the COVID-19 Community Task Force published on Thursday.

Hospitalizations ticked down to 14 on Wednesday and included five people ages 80 and up, four people in their 70s, one in their 60s, three in their 50s and one in their 30s, according to the data.

At the same time, the virus death toll in the Columbus area rose over the past week ending Thursday, with one death recorded in both Jackson and Jennings counties, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

Overall, 472 people have died from the virus in Bartholomew, Jackson and Jennings counties over the course of the pandemic.

In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has raised Bartholomew County’s COVID-19 Community Level to medium. The CDC says people who are at a high risk for severe illness should talk with their healthcare provider about wearing masks and take other precautions, stay up to date with COVID-19 vaccines and get tested if they are experiencing symptoms.

CRH says its outpatient physician offices are continuing to see many visits related to upper-respiratory symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19, though the number of patients seeking treatment has tapered off a bit but is holding steady.

However, COVID-19 hospitalizations have continued to increase, as well as the severity of cases.

“We have seen a slight continued rise in hospitalizations and also severity of cases, with a few more critical cases than we’ve seen in weeks past,” CRH spokeswoman Kelsey DeClue said in a previous interview. “All this just indicates that the virus is still circulating and causing moderate to serious illness in some.”

Local health officials are urging people take precautions and get vaccinated. About 39% of Bartholomew County residents have yet to get vaccinated and about half of those who finished their first vaccine series have yet to get a booster shot.

“If you have any cold or allergy-like symptoms, please get tested,” DeClue said. “We encourage those at a higher risk to consider masking in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status. And please make sure you’re up-to-date with your vaccine series, based on your age and health status.”