Yesterday, Governor Holcomb issued Executive Order 20-49, extending the Public Health Emergency declaration through December 31st. This was done in recognition that “COVID is definitely still with us” as Dr. Box, Commissioner of the IN Dept. of Health, said in today’s call. She noted that COVID hospitalizations continue to be at an all-time high, and today there are more than 1000 Hoosiers in ICU beds for the first time. She also spent time noting that “each of the 5500+ who have died from COVID have a name, a face, and loved ones who are grieving their loss.” Indiana currently has the 2nd highest number of hospitalized patients per capita in the country (behind South Dakota), which is not a list that any state wants to be near the top of.
The increased infection and hospitalization rates are having several impacts, including:
- Hospitals occasionally going on “diversion,” meaning that EMS runs may be delayed as they have to transport patients farther so non-COVID patients are impacted by these delays
- Test results are taking longer as supply of running the labs is unable to keep pace with the demand. They are working with local health departments to encourage the use of the rapid tests for those who are symptomatic, so that lab time is used for cases that are more questionable. The state is also working to secure an additional lab that they hope to be online for Indiana tests by the end of the year.
- The state has shortened the interview questions that Contact Tracers use allowing them to contact more individuals, still getting the key information, but improving the reach to more positive cases and also reach 100% completion with more that they interview.
There is also new guidance to those who test positive and those who are considered “close contacts” of a COVID positive patient.
- A close contact is anyone who has been within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes over the period of a day to someone who tests positive – even if either/both individuals were wearing a mask.
- If you test positive, you are encouraged to reach out yourself to those close contacts you have had in the days before a positive diagnosis
- Tips on how to isolate are on the state and CDC websites
- New guidance effective today about quarantining for close contacts. If you are able to quarantine for 14 days, you still should (for those who can effectively work from home and/or do other things to minimize exposure), but as medical professionals have learned more, the highest risk for illness/spread happens within the first 10 days of exposure, so:
- Quarantine can end at Day 10 if the person has not had a COVID-19 test and has not developed any symptoms
- Quarantine can end at Day 7 if the person tests negative for COVID-19 on Day 5, 6, or 7 and no symptoms have developed
- Both alternative options require that the person adhere to strict practices of masking, social distancing, hand washing, and watching for any symptoms through Day 14
Today’s briefing featured a member of the IN National Guard who is deployed to a nursing home in Muncie to augment the staff and also the nurse responsible for infectious disease control at Woodmont Nursing Home in Newburgh. The Guard members are doing some basic tasks of taking staff temperatures, disinfecting common touch points such as hand rails, and managing some of the increased paperwork caused by COVID. Both the Guardswoman and the nurse remarked about the positive experience of having the Guard on duty and the relief it is providing to staff who gain time to be able to provide more direct patient care.
New Information and Updates:
- Since last Wednesday, the state has reported 38,449 new positive cases (350,970 total), 456 new deaths (5,688 total), 105,707 new individuals tested (2,232,102 total), and 304,292 new tests administered (4,342,486 total). All of this information is on the ISDH dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov. There are an additional 285 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 15.7% since the beginning of testing and is 22.2% for the 7 day rate ending 11/25. The positivity rate for ALL tests administered (comparative measure to most other states) is 7.4% from the beginning of testing and 11.% for the 7-day rate ending on 11/24.
- 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 11/29, SW IN counties are among 75 of Indiana’s 92 counties that are all orange (moderate to high community spread). There are 16 Counties in red and one County in yellow (Switzerland). 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. SW Indiana rates as of 11/24 are: Gibson 14.9%, Posey 8.9%, Vanderburgh 7%, Warrick 7.6%, and Spencer 6.5%. 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:
- You can see the Governor’s most recent Executive Order and all previous ones here.
- YourNextStepIN.org is a one-stop shop for those seeking unemployment insurance, childcare, healthcare, food assistance, career coaching, etc.
- The Unemployment Insurance website has up-to-date information including a regularly updated FAQ
- Find thousands of available jobs at www.indianacareerconnect.com along with frequently planned virtual job fairs.
- Individuals can get financial support to seek training through the Workforce Ready Grant program and employers can use the Employer Training Grant program.
- Indiana 211 stands ready to help for anyone needing counseling, addiction recovery, support for those facing domestic violence or those contemplating suicide. You can call 211 from any phone line or use the website at www.in211.communityos.org
- Blood supplies continue to run dangerously low in many Indiana communities. Anyone interested in donating or scheduling a donation drive can learn more at: donation/collection in communities.
- College students willing to assist as substitute teachers or doing basic duties in healthcare facilities can register at the Students Step Up 2 Serve website.
- Those needing assistance paying rent should go to: www.IndianaHousingNow.org. Those falling behind on mortgage payments should go to: www.877GetHope.org.
- The state’s COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Plan is available to review.