There has been much talk about the need for local residents to travel beyond the county line with great caution, given the rates at which those in surrounding counties have caught the coronavirus.
And there's some truth in such warnings.
But as with any warning, it all depends on which direction one goes.
No county in the state is immune to the coronavirus, but much does depend on where one lives.
A resident of Knox County has a 1 in 1,272 chance of contracting COVID-19; for a resident of neighboring Greene County, however, the risk of being infected is more than six times greater — 1 in 191.
In Daviess County, the rate is 1 in 390, and in Sullivan County it's 1 in 609.
And the likelihood is increasing, almost daily, as more data gets reported.
Down in Pike County, the rate is 1 in 2,068, and in Gibson County it's even better — 1 in 2,389.
So if one is planning a trip out of the county, the smart money would be on heading south.
Statewide, the chance of getting the coronavirus is 1 in 201.
What we've noticed is that the more testing the greater the likelihood of having a higher rate of infection: Greene and Dubois counties have each tested more than 3% of their populations, while Knox, Pike and Gibson counties have each tested around 2% — in Pike and Gibson counties the testing rate is barely 1%.
Likely as not, if more testing were being done locally as well as in Pike and Gibson counties, more residents in each county would turn up with COVID-19.
Overall, better than 3.5% of Hoosiers have been tested.
There is nothing we've seen in the research that would support the notion that residents of smaller, rural counties are less susceptible to catching the coronavirus.
All of the counties we're looking at here are pretty similar demographically, economically, socially — even politically, yet there is disparity in the rates of infection.
Or is there?
It could well be that even where the chances of contracting COVID-19 appear slim, the reality is the coronavirus is there, that the infectious rates are much closer than what we see in just pulling the numbers from the Indiana State Department of Health's daily dashboard.
Politics may be pushing to get us back on track, but good sense says it's still too soon to be letting our guard down.