Knox County's rate for the coronavirus continues its steady decline, almost down to 5% as we write, among the lowest rates in the state.
But then, a mere 1% of the population has been tested for COVID-19, so we're basically still in the dark as to how extensively the coronavirus has spread locally.
The opening of the testing site at the Indiana National Guard Armory at 1514 Emison St. should boost the number of county residents being screened, the results either reassuring us in the “re-opening” of the economy or alarming us into a hasty retreat back inside our homes.
A lack of testing, however, hasn't stopped either state or local officials from rushing ahead with “re-opening” the economy, a step we think premature.
Call us a “nervous Nelly” if you like.
The seeming lack of the spread of the virus has left officials with what we believe to be an unfounded overconfidence and a false sense of their own prowess.
Indeed, we've heard from one local healthcare official that he and his colleagues have “gotten (COVID-19) out of Knox County.”
How such a statement could be made given how few tests have been conducted is beyond us. The assumption that in the remaining 99% of county residents who have not been tested there is not a single case of COVID-19 strains credulity, especially given that some may have the coronavirus and not know it — yet still be able to spread it.
It is like calling an election with only one of 100 precincts reporting.
Granted, compared to the state as a whole, Knox County is a bastion of good health.
Here, the reported cases per capita is 1,845 compared to a state average (with less than 2% of the population tested) of 291.
In District 10, the 12-county region in southwestern Indiana that includes Knox County, the reported cases per capita is 1,020, with 7% of those screened having tested positive — with a little over 1% of the total population of the district tested.
In neighboring Daviess County there have been 54 reported cases of COVID-19 (with only 1% of that county's population tested) and a per capita rate of 614 — and a death rate of 28%.
In Greene County (which isn't in District 10) it's much worse: 146 reported COVID-19 cases out of 571 tests — a 26% positive rate, one of the highest in the state — with a per capita rate of 219. Almost 2% of the population has been tested.
And with the accuracy of the results of the tests ranging anywhere from 40% on the low end to upwards of 90%, which we're told is the accuracy of those being done through Good Samaritan Hospital — well, not everyone in District 10 is being screened at Good Samaritan.
Our point is, we don't have enough information to be “re-opening” the economy — either locally or statewide — and Knox County doesn't exist in isolation; its good health is threatened by those next door, and some of those next door aren’t faring so well.
How many actually have the coronavirus we just don't know. We can speculate, we can guess, we can assume — but we can't know, we can't be even 90% positive of any number, not based on such spotty data as is now available.
We take a backseat to no one in wanting to see the economy “re-open.” We've suffered as much if not more than any other local business because of the coronavirus shutdown.
But we want that re-opening to be responsible, that it won't put more of our family, our friends and our neighbors at risk — that it won’t put economic recovery at even greater risk.
Perhaps our caution justifies our being labelled a “nervous Nelly.” Maybe history will judge us as being overcautious, of being wrong in our worry about moving too fast and that, mirabile dictu, it will all work out as the politicians say it will.
We could live with being wrong in urging a delay.
That would certainly be much easier than our having been right and then having to report on what rushing to re-open too soon wrought locally.