Indiana Legislative Update – COVID-19

The Indiana Department of Health leaders conducted a COVID update earlier today where Dr. Kristina Box, State Health Commissioner, commented, “I want Hoosiers to understand that the decisions they are making affect others” and expressed disappointment that half the population is refusing to get the vaccine. While rate numbers, hospitalizations, and deaths are not yet setting overall records, health providers are seeing more young people impacted right now than at any other time and are frustrated by the continued lag in vaccinations. It is causing providers to feel like these are the “darkest days” of the pandemic so far.

The positivity rate has grown to 10.8% from just 2% at the end of June. The biggest increases are coming in ages 10-14 and 5-9 – today 30% of all new COVID-19 cases in Indiana are those ages 0-17 compared to just 11% at this time last year and hospitalizations for those under 18 are at record levels in Indiana while hospitalizations for those over 18 are rising, but not yet at record levels.

Dr. Box also shared information supporting the fact that vaccination reduces the risk of serious illness and death. Between August 15th – 21st, there were 1288 Hoosiers newly admitted to the hospital; of those, only 7 were fully vaccinated. Of all those hospitalized, 205 were admitted to the ICU and of those 205, only 1 was fully vaccinated.

Hospitals are once again having a hard time staffing for and servicing the many patients they are seeing and we are several weeks away from seeing the peak of cases or hospitalizations. Many hospitals are delaying procedures, including those that impact cancer patients, those in accidents, and those needing joint replacements. These are the Hoosiers most impacted by those who are not yet vaccinated – besides themselves and those who love them if they do get seriously ill with COVID.

As most know, the Pfizer vaccine has received full approval, which may be contributing to the 10% increase in vaccination appointments over the last week – 83,000 total shots administered this year. While we anticipate booster shot availability in the next few weeks (& already for some individuals). Reminding Hoosiers of the value of vaccinations, Dr. Lindsay Weaver, Indiana’s Chief Medical Officer, noted that since January 1, there have been 2,996 deaths in unvaccinated Hoosiers and only 93 in fully-vaccinated Hoosiers.

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce has launched the “COVID Stops Here” campaign to recognize employers leading the fight against COVID-19 by playing a role in improving the state’s vaccination numbers. Companies with at least a 70% vaccination rate can receive the designation, which could have a positive impact on employee safety and morale as well as positively influence the relationship with customers, visitors, and partners.

The school dashboard will be updated to allow viewers to look at just this school year or from the beginning of the tracking. To access the school dashboard, go to the IN COVID Dashboard and choose “School” under the Data Report section.

When pushed about whether the state would take more action on statewide mandates for masking – for all indoors or for schools – Dr. Box repeated that “the answer for right now in this Delta surge is layered mitigation – get vaccinated and wear a mask in large groups and indoors.” She referenced a study in NC schools where all students were masked that showed a transmission rate of less than 2% – masks worked to reduce transmission. She added, we “respect the fact that people want the right to make decisions for their family. I don’t understand how people feel it’s so difficult to wear a mask – evidence shoes they help. Same with vaccines.” She committed to continuing to impress upon people how much good evidence there is for these things.

In non-COVID news, Legislative Interim Study Committees are starting to pick up with September slated as a heavy meeting month. We will be monitoring those for issues of importance and report back to you as they are relevant. We also know beginning September 20th, legislators will begin considering new district maps for our US Congressional representatives and those who serve us in the Statehouse. This work would normally have been completed in April during Session, but the Census data was not available at that time.

COVID BY THE NUMBERS:

  • Today, the State reported 5,027 new positive cases (838,869 total), 12 new deaths (13,915 total), 15,568 new individuals tested (3,864,626 total), and 58,051 new tests administered (12,069,48 total). There are an additional 437 probable Covid-19 deaths (symptoms & exam consistent w/Covid-19, but no positive test received).  All of this is on the ISDH dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov.
  • The positivity rate for ALL tests administered is 8.5% from the beginning of testing and 10.8% for the 7-days ending on 08/19. The positivity rate for unique individuals is 21.7% since the beginning of testing and is 18.3% for the 7 days ending 08/19 (rates trail by 7 days to account for lagging reports).
  • The color-coded county metrics (combines: new cases per 100,000 people in the last week and 7-day positivity rates) updated Wednesday keeps has Vanderburgh County in orange (moderate to high community spread) completely surrounded by all other SW IN Counties in 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. Currently, SW Indiana rates as of 08/19 are: Gibson 15.8%, Posey 15.5%, Vanderburgh 14.6%, Warrick 16.6%, and Spencer 20.2%. You can find the county-level information by choosing the “Positivity” tab above the map of Indiana on the state dashboard.
  • The Vaccination Dashboard shows that through 08/25, 3,078,096 Hoosiers are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. This is 52.5% of Hoosiers over the age of 12 fully vaccinated and SW IN is above average with 55.3% of residents 12+ in Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh & Warrick fully vaccinated. More than 70% of Hoosiers over the age of 60 are now fully vaccinated.  
  • There are 500+ 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.
  • You can see any of the Governor’s Executive Orders here

If you are unsure about how to keep yourself and your family healthy, please be in touch with your doctor or a local trusted health professional and do what you can to stop the spread of COVID-19.