An example of how COVID-19 spreads from a party of five people to infect more than 30 people in just a few days is illustrated on two white boards at the Vigo County Health Department.

One person from the house party exposed 11 people at a pool party. Two of those people exposed 15 other people at a house party, with 10 people later testing positive.

Two people at the house party were connected to two other positive cases.

Another party-goer who was asymptomatic was connected to “person 34” who was connected to seven other people who tested positive for COVID-19.

“Pool parties and graduation parties are now the hot spots,” said health educator Roni Elder on Friday while reviewing how the virus spread from a small group of young adults ages 18 to 24.

The county health department reported 446 cases of COVID-19 on its website at mid-day Friday.

People ages 20 to 29 make up one-fifth of Vigo County's COVID-19 cases, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

Pool parties, sleep-overs and other events where social distancing and face masks are not enforced have been traced as the source of the increase, Elder said.

“At first, the largest group was in the 30 to 39 age group. We attributed that to the workforce and people still going to restaurants and bars,” Elder said of the early weeks of COVID-19 testing.

“Two weeks ago, we found it was people traveling to Florida for graduations or weddings, or staying with relatives, but no one practiced social distancing or face masks,” she said. “Some of the Florida family members were sick, and the travelers brought it back home with them.”

Pool parties and graduation parties are now the hot spots in Vigo County, she said.

The county health department knows that because of contact tracing, which involves talking to each person who has a positive test result and tracing their movements among other people.

Sometimes, Elder said, a person who tests positive can connect their contacts back to others who have already tested positive because of the contact tracing by the health department.

“We posted the charts so people can see how easily this spreads,” Elder said Friday afternoon.

Younger people can carry the virus to the high risk population – such as grandparents and people with pre-existing conditions – which is the reason for social distancing and masking, she said.

“Even though we know mortality rates for younger people are very low, they are still getting sick with some or all of these symptoms – cough, fever, shortness of breath, congestion, sore throat, diarrhea, loss of taste and smell, and fatigue,” Elder said.

A look at the data 

A look at the data on the state health department's website shows the Vigo County cases are about evenly split between women and men.

Seven of the 10 COVID-19 deaths for Vigo County residents have occurred in people age 60 and older. The most recent Vigo County death occurred July 27, according to the state website.

The state showed a daily positivity rate of 6.8 percent for the week of July 18 to 24, meaning that almost 7 percent of people who were tested on any day that week tested positive for the virus. That positivity rate does not include the latest surge in Vigo County cases.

On Friday, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 912 additional Hoosiers were diagnosed with COVID-19 for a total of 66,154 positive cases.

A total of 2,765 Hoosiers were confirmed to have died from COVID-19, and another 200 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record.

Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or at lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter at TribStarLisa.

Lisa Trigg has been a reporter at the Tribune-Star since 2009. With more than 30 years of newspaper experience, she now covers general news with a focus on crime and courts.

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