By CBS 2 Chicago Staff

CHICAGO (CBS) — Amid warnings of additional COVID-19 spread, Indiana’s coronavirus case count continues to hover near the state’s highest levels since the start of the pandemic, according to state health department data.

On Friday, the state reported 1,044 new COVID-19 cases and 17 additional deaths. State health director, Dr. Kristina Box, warned Hoosiers to be careful over the Labor Day holiday to avoid increases in cases, similar to what happened over Memorial Day and July 4th. She reminded people to avoid large gatherings, wear masks and practice social distancing. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases , included Indiana on a list of midwest states that are at risk of another outbreak if mitigation efforts are not followed.

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The state’s seven-day moving average stands at 943 cases a day, down slightly from the peak in August, but that number has essentially remained flat for the past month.

Counties with university towns–especially Vigo (Indiana State), Monroe (Indiana University, and Delaware (Ball State)–have seen spikes in the past 10 days due to outbreaks on campus. IU wants to shut down the greek housing system, where the majority of  campus cases have been reported. St. Joseph County (Notre Dame) had a big increase in cases two weeks ago, forcing the university to convert to e-learning for two weeks.  Since then, cases have declined and students have returned to class.

In Northwest Indiana, the five-county region reported 110 additional cases and five deaths.  The seven day case average (88) has declined slightly but is still more than double the low points in June (34).

Since the start of the pandemic, Indiana has reported 97.884 positive COVID-19 cases and 3,350 deaths, which includes more the 223 deaths likley caused by COVID-19.

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CBS 2 Chicago Staff