BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – The two counties with the lowest COVID-19 positivity rates in Indiana are home to two of the state’s biggest universities.
Data from the Indiana Department of Health shows as of Tuesday, Monroe County’s COVID-19 seven-day positivity rate is 4.1%, the lowest of all of Indiana’s 92 counties. Indiana University’s Bloomington campus is located in Monroe County.
Tippecanoe County, home of Purdue University, has the state’s second-lowest seven-day positivity rate, 4.8% as of Tuesday.
The statewide seven-day positivity rate currently stands at 9.3%, according to the Indiana Department of Health.
“We think that we’re helping with the community by being so large and not having a large spread here,” said Chuck Carney, Indiana University spokesperson.
Carney said that spread has been limited by IU’s vaccination rate.
According to university data, more than 93% of the Bloomington campus population is partially or fully vaccinated.
IU has mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for students and faculty.
“Plus Monroe County has had the mask mandate for indoors,” Carney said. “You have to wear a mask. We have that on all of our IU campuses.”
Penny Caudill, administrator for the Monroe County Health Department, acknowledged repeated testing on IU’s campus may be a factor. But she pointed out testing has decreased since most students and faculty are vaccinated.
Purdue University data shows 86% of its campus population is vaccinated.
“They do have a high number of vaccinated, but even last year when we didn’t have the vaccine, due to the high amount of testing they do, it drops down our positivity rate,” said Khala Hochstedler, administrator for Tippecanoe County Health Department.
“I think it certainly can be in part due to testing, but I don’t think that’s the entire story,” said Dr. Shaun Grannis, vice president for data and analytics at the Regenstrief Institute.
Dr. Grannis said he believes there are several factors that contribute to the lower rates.
State data shows in both Monroe and Tippecanoe counties, 60% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.
“I think that we need to recognize that vaccinations and the other precautions play an important role in decreasing the overall COVID rate,” Dr. Grannis said.
Indiana University continues to work with the Monroe County Health Department to reevaluate the COVID protocols in place on campus, Carney said.