Thanks to continued vaccine administration and residents doing their part by masking up, maintaining proper social distancing, and avoiding gatherings with those who don't live in the same household, Vanderburgh County has seen a steady decline in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and most importantly, deaths, over the past couple of weeks. That decline has upgraded the county to the state Health Department's blue advisory status, the least restrictive of the four color designations.

The state Health Department color-codes each county in the state based on two factors, the 7-day positivity rate on all tests administered across the state, and the weekly number of cases per 100,000 residents. Depending on those numbers, the county is given a score that determines what color they will be. A higher score means higher restrictions to try and slow transmission, while a lower score eases those restrictions. For a county's color to change, either way, it must remain at its current color for two weeks, which Vanderburgh has done. You can see the complete breakdown of how those scores are tabulated through the state Health Department's Coronavirus website.

What This Means

As of Wednesday (March 10th, 2021), it means the following guidelines are now in effect:

  • Social gatherings are recommended to be no more than 250 people
  • Events and social gatherings may take place at up to 100 percent capacity when all other guidelines, including social distancing, face coverings and plans to mitigate COVID-19 are in place.
    • This includes K-12 extracurricular and co-curricular activities, community recreational sports, and college and professional sports, which should coordinate events with their local health departments

This is definitely good news for all of us who live or work in the county and offers another sign of hope that we're closer to putting the pandemic behind us. However, to be perfectly clear, this DOES NOT mean life in the county returns to pre-pandemic normal. Face masks must still be worn, and social distancing must still be practiced as those guidelines were put in place through an executive order by Governor Eric Holcomb and are separate from the Health Department's guidelines which set the recommendations for social gatherings and capacities for events.

It's Not Permanent...Yet

While the decreasing numbers are encouraging, letting our guard down too soon could easily put us back in the yellow, orange, or even worse, red in two weeks which would kick in the more restrictive guidelines that come with those designations like Gibson County who had been enjoying blue advisory level status, but was downgraded to yellow today due to a spike in cases thanks to half the inmates at the Gibson County jail testing positive recently.

Other surrounding counties currently in the blue advisory level include Daviess, Knox, Martin, Pike, and Perry counties.

Not Everyone is the Same

Warrick, Posey, Spencer, and the aforementioned Gibson counties are all still under the yellow advisory status, meaning the following guidelines are in place for those counties:

  • Social gatherings are recommended to be no more than 100 people
  • Events and social gatherings may take place at up to 50 percent capacity when all other guidelines, including social distancing, face coverings, and plans to mitigate COVID-19 are in place.
    • This includes K-12 extracurricular and co-curricular activities, community recreational sports, and college and professional sports, which should coordinate events with their local health departments.

Finding the Right Map

When looking at the state's coronavirus website, there are four different maps you can access. The Weekly 2-Metric Score, the Advisory Level, Weekly Cases per 100,000 residents, and 7-Day All Tests Positivity Rate. You can access each by using the drop-down menu to the left of the state map. This is important to note because a county could be blue based on the Weekly 2-Metric Score, but yellow on the Advisory Level map since that score is based on two weeks of data.

(Click image for larger view)

Indiana State Department of Health

[Source: Indiana Health Department]

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.