EVANSVILLE— After several weeks of daily new COVID-19 case counts mostly in the teens to 30s, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 163 new cases Friday for Vanderburgh County.

The ISDH dashboard, updated daily, reported 1,664 new tests in the county in its update Friday morning. There were no new reported deaths.

The seven-day positivity rate was 9.1% with the date range of July 17-23. The cumulative positivity rate was 8.9%.

Vanderburgh County Commissioner Jeff Hatfield said after the past year, it's discouraging and disappointing to see numbers rise, as well as vaccine resistance.

"A lot of people have lost a lot," he said. "Some people have lost their lives, some people have lost their jobs. A lot of people still haven’t recovered from the COVID economy."

Hatfield said he can't say for sure whether or not numbers would be different with a change in vaccine rates, but "who knows where we would be if our vaccination rates were much, much higher."

As of 5 a.m. Friday morning, Vanderburgh County was reported to have 82,900 fully vaccinated residents.

Hatfield said at this time he does not see any collective will for a mask mandate and sees the path forward relying a lot on the private sector deciding what is best for its employees.

"I think what you’re going to find is individual companies, corporations, institutions, creating rules on their own, for their people, so that they can operate safely," he said.

As of this week, both the University of Southern Indiana and the University of Evansville released guidance reinstating masking on campus and 3-foot social distancing.

Both schools cited updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidance on COVID-19 with the delta variant sparking a resurgence in new cases throughout the country.

Ascension St. Vincent announced this week it would be requiring vaccinations for its employees.

At the city level, Mayor Lloyd Winnecke's Director of Communications Noah Stubbs said they were listening to state recommendations during Friday's news conference, and will also be in contact with the local hospital systems for an update.

Warrick County reported 56 new cases and 464 new tests with a 7-day positivity rate of 11.5 %. Posey County reported 23 new cases against 131 tests and a 7-day positivity rate of 15.5%. Gibson County reported 30 new cases against 315 tests and reported a 7-day positivity rate of 12.3%.

Statewide there were 1,461 new cases reported while there were 23,295 new tests. The statewide 7-day positivity rate is 6.8%.

Each Wednesday the state updates its color-coded map, which uses the colors blue, yellow, orange and red to represent outbreak severity. Vanderburgh, Posey and Spencer counties are all yellow while Warrick and Gibson were orange.

The federal, state and local officials have warned of the high transmissibility of the present delta variant of the virus urging residents to get vaccinated and to wear masks, no matter your vaccination status.

More: Evansville Vanderburgh Schools punts on COVID mask mandate, keeps usage recommended

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended this week that even vaccinated Americans resume wearing masks indoors if they are in areas with high transmissibility of the COVID-19 virus.

The CDC cited concerns about COVID-19's delta variant, which continues to make up more than 80% of new infections in the U.S. The variant is more than two times as transmissible as the original strains of COVID-19, and experts believe it could cause vaccinated people to be contagious.

The delta variant is known to be substantially more contagious than other variants – as contagious though deadlier than chicken pox, according to a CDC presentation dated Thursday. Among common infectious diseases, only measles is more contagious.

More: Delta variant substantially more contagious than other variants, CDC presentation warns

People may also be infectious for longer with the delta variant -- 18 days instead of 13 -- the presentation says. This suggests official guidance on quarantining when sick may need to be changed, too, said Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco.

"None of it is good news," he said by email. "Clearly (we) need more vaccinations, resumption of non-pharmacologic interventions ASAP even for vaccinated people, and probably boosters."

Some reporting contributed by USA Today.
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