COVID-19 Weekly Update from Gov. Eric J. Holcomb

As you may know, the Governor and First Lady are in quarantine (started yesterday) after several members of the IN Police Security Detail tested positive. Due to the nature of the work they do, these individuals are frequently within 6 feet of the Governor and First Lady. The Governor and First Lady will be tested at the end of the week (to allow for the 5-7 day incubation period) and the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) is doing the contact tracing. The Governor joined the briefing by phone as Dr. Box led the in-person segments. An overview of where we are right now:

  • No planned changes to the existing Executive Order – most of Southwest Indiana is in Orange (Spencer & Perry are in Red). Because a County must be in an improved level for 2 weeks before the restrictions are lifted, please plan to abide by the regulations for Orange Counties until at least December 7th.
  • IF Indiana were ONLY using the “positive cases per 100,000 residents” factor, the entire state would be in Red. The lagging indicator of positivity rates is what is keeping most of the state in Orange right now. As positivity rates have continued to rise, we should expect more of the state to move to Red in the coming weeks (as it stands, there are 0 Blue Counties, 1 Yellow County, 72 Orange Counties, and 21 Red Counties)
  • There are a record # of COVID patients in the hospital at 3,040. We can debate all day about what the # of positive cases means, but that many people needing hospital care (847 in the ICU) give leaders particular concern about the impact this has on the ability to care for COVID and non-COVID patients. Currently only 21.7% of ICU beds are available – this is the lowest amount since early days of the pandemic.
  • While the state can monitor/track hospital/ICU bed availability, the real issue is staffing. Beds can be added, but there is already a shortage of qualified staff to treat patients and those doing the work are exhausted and reaching burnout. We have to turn the tide on hospitalization #’s.

The Governor reminded everyone that rising cases leads to more hospitalizations, which leads to other patients having to reschedule appointments and screenings…schools have to go virtual as staff quarantines…parents have to stay home…employers have to do more with less people…hospital staff have to quarantine themselves…and ultimately the death toll rises. “Every action has an equal or greater reaction. There are downstream impacts from our individual behaviors.” And when asked by a reporter about “how much higher” she expected the positive case, hospitalizations, and deaths to go before we peak, Dr. Box noted that “we are in an exponential growth curve and I only expect to see the rates climb over at least the next few weeks.”

If you know of a college student willing to work as a substitute teacher, register people for antibody screening, phone calls for contact tracing, transporting residents in nursing homes from their rooms to the cafeteria, or in a variety of other ways, please direct them to learn more and register here.

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, Dr. Box encouraged Hoosiers to take action to protect vulnerable family members, including making the difficult decisions to only celebrate with those in your home. They have shared ideas for increasing safety for those who will be celebrating with others.

On the bright side, Dr. Weaver shared that the latest vaccine news is promising and Indiana expects their first shipments of the Pfizer vaccine within 48 hours AFTER the FDA issues an Emergency Use Authorization. She emphasized the safety guidelines for developing and implementing the vaccine program. In Indiana, there are 50 hospitals prepared to administer the vaccine with the first doses going to those front line workers who are in direct contact with patients and infectious material. It will be Spring or Summer before the vaccine is available to the broad population.

When asked about the 2 legislators who did not wear masks yesterday at Organization Day, Holcomb acknowledged his appreciation for the 148 who did wear a mask and show good social distancing. These are best practices that we know work – even better than just keeping distance. “We should be doing more of this; not less.”

Finally, on a lighter note, you may be aware that the NCAA is in talks with Indiana/Indianapolis about hosting all of March Madness. The Governor noted that even before these talks, it was clear that “I-69 is the road to the Final Four” as Indy, Evansville, and Fort Wayne are all scheduled to host Final Four competitions for the three NCAA divisions.

New Information and Updates:

  • Since last Wednesday, the state has reported 43,848 new positive cases (268,222 total), 318 new deaths (4,830 total), 135,756 new individuals tested (1,989,456 total), and 360,204 new tests administered (3,668,049 total) as some individuals get tested more than once. All of this information is on the ISDH dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov. There are an additional 254 probable Covid-19 deaths (X-Ray, CT, symptoms & exam consistent w/Covid-19, but no positive test received).
  • The state shares 2 different positivity rates; both trail by 7 days to allow for a full reporting of tests that lag coming in. The positivity rate for unique individuals is 13.5% since the beginning of testing and is 23.4% for the 7 day rate ending 11/11. The positivity rate for ALL tests administered (comparative measure to most other states) is 6.8% from the beginning of testing and 12.2% for the 7-day rate ending on 11/11.
  • Under the color-coded county metrics that combine new cases per 100,000 people over the last week and the 7-day positivity rates through 11/15, SW IN counties are among 72 of Indiana’s 92 counties that are all orange (moderate to high community spread) except Spencer and Perry, which are red (high community spread).  You can find these metrics and how they are calculated by choosing the “County Metrics” tab above the map of Indiana on the state dashboard.
  • The state also publishes county-level 7-day positivity rates for all tests given (not unique individuals). SW Indiana rates as of 11/11 are: Gibson 13.6%, Posey 10.4%, Vanderburgh 6.2%, Warrick 8.7%, and Spencer 13.2%.  You can find the county-level information by choosing the “Positivity” tab above the map of Indiana on the state dashboard.
  • There are nearly 280  testing sites across the state. You are encouraged to get tested if you have any symptoms or are have had contact with someone who has tested positive.
  • There are three specific types of data sets on the state’s coronavirus website; scroll down to the blue bar that says “Indiana COVID-19 Data Report.” From there, you can choose “Dashboard” (general statewide data and county-level maps), “LTC” (data about Long Term Care facilities), or “School” (K-12 school data).  Most of the Dashboard data is updated daily while the LTC and School information is updated once each week.

Online Resources Available:

The state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Plan is available to review.