Indiana County reported 123 new cases from June 23-30, up from 70 the previous week, the Pennsylvania Department of Health reported Thursday. The seven-day average is 15 cases per day, compared to the 10 per day average reported in the previous week.

June was the lowest month in each of the previous two years, but June 2022 is significantly higher with a total of 440 cases for the month. There were a total of 17 cases in June 2020 with 21 case-free days, and 67 in June 2021 with 11 case-free days.

Statewide, 18,900 cases were reported, for a total of 74,071 for the month.

The Department of Health reported five hospitalized patients with COVID on June 30. There were four deaths in the county, bringing the total to 368.

Sewage surveillance between June 26 and July 2 shows an increase in the presence of COVID-19.

The CDC reports that the level of risk to the community in Indiana County is low. The recommendations are to be up to date on the vaccines against COVID-19 and to get tested if you have symptoms. People with symptoms, a positive test, or contact with someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask. People can choose a mask at any time.

Vaccinations increased very slightly in Indiana County as vaccine hesitancy continues to be a problem. The county has one of the lowest rates of vaccination in the state, ranking 59th out of 67 counties; 52.8 percent of the eligible population received at least one dose of vaccine, 37,337 or 46.6 percent of the population were fully vaccinated and 5,023 were partially vaccinated.

There have been 34 first injections for a total of 19,010 since they became available on August 13, and 134 second injections for a total of 3,257 since they became available on March 29, 2022.

The county ranks worst in younger age groups, with 76.8 percent of people ages 5-24 unvaccinated. Indiana County ranks 45th out of 67 counties for children ages 5 to 9 with 12.1 percent vaccinated; 51 of 67 counties for people aged 10 to 14 – 20.8 percent; 63 of 67 aged 15 to 19 with 23.3 percent vaccinated; and 64 out of 67 aged 20 to 24 with 29.3 percent vaccinated.

Data on young adults for the past week show that 5-19 year olds were not vaccinated. Eight were introduced last week and 17 in the previous four weeks among 20- to 24-year-olds.

The Department of Health’s monthly data on post-vaccination cases of COVID-19, commonly known as the “breakthrough,” was released on May 31 and includes data from January 1, 2021, to May 11, 2022, showing that the vast majority of cases, hospitalizations and deaths were among unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated people:

• 69 percent of reported cases of COVID were in unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated people

• 81 percent of reported primary diagnosis/reason for admission for COVID-19 hospitalizations were in unvaccinated or under-vaccinated people

• 77 percent of deaths related to COVID-19 were among people who were unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.

Evidence shows that COVID-19 vaccines are highly effective in preventing hospitalizations and deaths, even when more post-vaccination cases occur in the context of more transmissible variants and more residents receive vaccinations.

Source: This report was compiled by Ron Riley for The Indiana Gazette based on data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The Ministry of Health Dashboard is updated weekly on Wednesdays.