Alongside its second-largest one-day increase in COVID-19 cases since it began counting, Tippecanoe County reported its first death of a person younger than age 60 from the coronavirus in Thursday's update of state data.
Two more people were found to have died of the coronavirus in Tippecanoe County in Saturday's update of the Indiana State Department of Health dashboard.
One of 27 people who have died of the virus in the county as of Sunday was between the ages of 40 and 49, according to the ISDH dashboard.
The individual died in late October, according to Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler. The case was included in Thursday's update of the data because the cause of death was pending a coroner's investigation that concluded this week.
While the person was the youngest to have died of the virus in the county, they had underlying chronic health conditions, Adler said.
Most people who have died were over the age of 70, with 11 falling between the ages of 70-79 and 12 being 80 or older. The remaining three deaths in the county were people aged 60-69.
"Since this is the county's first COVID-19 death in an individual under age 60, it is difficult to say at this point if this is indicative of a new trend in the community in terms of where we're heading with COVID-19 deaths," Adler said.
"What we know for certain," he added, "is that we are experiencing a significant surge."
For two consecutive days, more than 200 cases of the coronavirus have been reported in Tippecanoe County. Fully 248 cases were recorded on Friday and 214 were tallied on Saturday, the most recent update.
Exactly 58% of people to have contracted the virus in the county since March have been younger than 30, state data shows. Although younger people are less susceptible to severe symptoms of the virus, Adler cautioned against the notion it is impossible.
"We also know that COVID-19 can affect people of any age," Adler said. "It is possible for COVID-19 to cause severe illness in people of any age."
Over half of the county's total deaths since March 6, when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Indiana, have been observed in the past month. Thirteen deaths were reported from March 6 to Oct. 14, and 14 have been reported since Oct. 15.
Those figures mean the average monthly death rate in Tippecanoe County has grown roughly six times larger since mid-October, from under 2 deaths a month in the first seven months of the pandemic to 14 deaths in the past five weeks.
About 8% of Indiana's overall COVID-19 deaths have occurred among people younger than 60, data shows.
Death rates have fully rebounded in the state, with the highest number of total daily deaths, 57, attributed to Tuesday. And on both subsequent days, nearly 50 more deaths were added to the state's count.