After a sharp spike in numbers in the weeks following the holiday season, the Hoosier state has seen a steady decline in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and most importantly, deaths, over the past few weeks. Distribution of the vaccine has been a large part of that, as has residents doing their part by wearing masks, limiting, or eliminating, large gatherings, and practicing social distancing. All of which has brought nearly every Indiana county in the Tri-State down to the yellow advisory status on the state's COVID map, and a new set of slightly less restrictive guidelines when it comes to social gatherings and capacity at events.

Counties across the state are given a color code based on two factors, the 7-day positivity rate on all tests administered across the state, and the weekly number of cases per 100,000 residents. Depending on those numbers, the county is given a score that determines what color they will be. A higher score means higher restrictions, while a lower score eases those restrictions. For a county's color to change, either way, it must remain at its current color for two weeks. You can see the complete breakdown of how those scores are tabulated through the state Health Department's Coronavirus website.

As of Wednesday (February 24th, 2021), Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey, Gibson, Pike, Dubois, Perry, Knox, and Martin counties had been moved/upgraded from the orange advisory level into the yellow while Daviess County had been upgraded to blue, the best and least restrictive level at this time.

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This means a new, slightly less restrictive, set of guidelines are now in place for the time being. Face masks must still be worn, and social distancing must still be practiced as those guidelines were put in place through an executive order by Governor Eric Holcomb and are separate from the Health Department's guidelines which set the recommendations for social gatherings and capacities for events.

For Vanderburgh, Warrick, Posey, Gibson, Pike, Dubois, Perry, Knox, and Martin counties, that means:

  • Social gatherings are recommended to be no more than 100 people
  • Events and social gatherings may take place at up to 50 percent capacity when all other guidelines, including social distancing, face coverings, and plans to mitigate COVID-19 are in place.
    • This includes K-12 extracurricular and co-curricular activities, community recreational sports, and college and professional sports, which should coordinate events with their local health departments.

For Daviess county, now under the blue advisory level, that means:

  • Social gatherings are recommended to be no more than 250 people
  • Events and social gatherings may take place at up to 100 percent capacity when all other guidelines, including social distancing, face coverings and plans to mitigate COVID-19 are in place.
    • This includes K-12 extracurricular and co-curricular activities, community recreational sports, and college and professional sports, which should coordinate events with their local health departments.

This is definitely good news for all of us who live in those counties and offers another sign of hope that we're closer to putting the pandemic behind us. However, we still have a while to go before we're completely out of the woods. While the current decrease in numbers is encouraging, if we let our guard down too soon, we could easily find ourselves back in the orange, or even worse, red, and under the more restrictive guidelines that come with those designations.

On the flip side, if we continue to do what we need to do, it's entirely possible we could see ourselves in the blue in a few weeks, and therefore under the same guidelines, Daviess county and others around the state are now enjoying.

[Source: Indiana Health Department]

LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.