INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials reported Tuesday that 809 additional Hoosiers have COVID-19, and 16 more have died; and also reported a sharp increase in the number of people hospitalized with the respiratory infection.

Indiana hospitals were treating 907 patients with COVID-19 as of Monday, a jump of 72 from a day earlier and the most since early June, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have grown by about 50 percent since late June, while the seven-day average of newly recorded coronavirus infections has more than doubled during that time to about 800 cases.

Gov. Eric Holcomb cited those trends when he announced a statewide face mask mandate that took effect Monday.

Indiana hospitals had 303 COVID-19 patients in their intensive care units on Monday. That patient number was about one-third of the state’s coronavirus ICU peak in April but it’s grown by nearly 40 percent since the beginning of July.

The new cases bring to 63,678 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus, while the death toll reached 2,725 confirmed and 199 probable deaths.

The state reports 772 cases and 29 deaths in La Porte County.

To date, 716,809 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 707,791 on Monday. That includes 11,922 in La Porte County.

The growing number of cases has one health professional worried about a possible return to lockdown.

Dr. Alan Stewart, Knox County health officer, attributes the surge in cases, in part, to a number of residents going ahead with summer vacation plans, then returning and not isolating at home.

The continuation of summer travel, uptick in community spread and the resistance by many to wear face coverings when in public places, Stewart said, is pushing the county and state down a dangerous road that could lead to unintended consequences.

“We have to try to get all this calmed down before starting school, or it’s going to endanger that,” he said.

If numbers continue to increase across the state, Stewart believes Gov. Eric Holcomb could be pushed to take action that goes beyond the mask mandate, which went into effect on Monday.

Instead of moving forward, Stewart said Hoosiers could see a reversal of the back-on-track plan, which would once again reduce customer capacity inside of local businesses or shutter their doors altogether.

“The more compliant we are with the governor’s face covering mandate, the better. It’s such a simple thing to do, it doesn’t hurt and it will allow us to keep our community open,” Stewart said.

While many local businesses have taken significant measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus, “all businesses need to start participating; do a better job,” he said.

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