Reason for recent peak in Perry Township COVID cases remains a mystery

By Neal Smith

There’s no specific reason that Perry Township’s zip code (46227) was recently the worst COVID-19 spot in Marion County, but data released by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) for the first half of November showed 46227 to be the worst in Marion County and seventh worst in the state.

The zip code has just over 57,000 residents and covers 17 square miles.

According to the ISHD, the seven worst COVID hot spots (on Nov. 15) included:

  • West Lafayette (47906): 2,798 cases
  • Crown Point (46307): 2,757 cases
  • Elkhart (46516): 2,368 cases
  • Elkhart (46514): 2,364 cases
  • Goshen (46526): 2,338 cases
  • Logansport (46947): 2,300 cases
  • Indianapolis (46227): 2,034 cases

For the first week in December, 46227 had reduced to be a medium activity area.

What makes one zip code area more vulnerable than others?

“The hot spots move around,” said Marion County Health Department spokesperson Curt Brantingham. For example, the spike could be due to more than the recommended number of people showing up at various events or crowds attending shopping centers that recently opened or would soon close.

The Marion County Health Department has moved its Southside drive-through testing facility to the Marion County Fairgrounds. (Photo by Neal Smith)

Brantingham recommends continuing the practices of wearing masks, social distancing and hand washing.

IUPUI’s Polis Center is keeping track of the zip code ratings. SAVI Center Geographic Information Coordinator Marianne Cardwell said they don’t know for sure why it changes, but acknowledged demographics could be to blame. “Not every zip code has the same number of people living in it,” she said, which can give a false impression, and varies based on demographic information such as age and race. “It also depends on how many tests are given in an area.” To view the changing data go to savi.org/savi-talks/health-and-economic-impacts-of-covid-19-on-neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, the Marion County Health Department has moved its Southside drive-through testing facility from the South District Health Office to the Marion County Fairgrounds, 7300 E. Troy Ave., and can provide a covered area for testing. Testing will be offered weekly on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The entrance is through Gate 4. An appointment is required for testing.

MCPHD will eventually move all COVID-19 drive-through testing to an indoor or covered location to protect workers and those seeking testing from winter weather conditions.

To register and receive an appointment time for free COVID-19 testing through the Marion County Public Health Department, please visit mcphdredcap.hhcorp.org/surveys/?s=A4F4NY3PDH.

Residents who do not have internet access or need help completing the online registration should call (317) 221-5515.