INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time in months, state leaders held a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in Indiana.
Gov. Eric Holcomb joined State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver for the briefing.
“Delta, omicron have crisscrossed the country and Indiana and taken a couple hard whacks at our populations,” Holcomb said. “It has challenged our recovery efforts for sure.”
The update came a critical time.
Indiana has a positivity rate over 14% with a larger proportion of cases being found in people aged 40 and under compared to last year.
More than 3,000 people are also currently hospitalized with the virus.
Concerns about the omicron variant have risen in recent weeks, with the CDC reporting a single-day record of new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday with 441,278 new cases in the U.S. Newly reported cases and hospitalizations have also been on the rise within the last month in Indiana.
“The number of people hospitalized with covid has increased more than 700% since late June,” Box said.
Cases in long term care, which had been decreasing, have also nearly doubled since August.
Cases among children 9 and younger have increased from 3% to 10% of all cases.
But there are other issues too.
“We are dealing with a shortage of rapid tests,” Box said.
The state has been supplying tests weekly to their own local health departments, mobile sites and places like schools and jails.
“Each week they go through about 50,000 tests. Due to the national shortage, we are only expected to receive about 11,000 tests a week right now.”
Forty-five percent of the state’s eligible population remains unvaccinated.
Officials pleading with people to get the shot.
The city of Indianapolis is preparing to welcome tens of thousands of people for the upcoming College Football National Championship Game. The event, scheduled for Jan. 10, will put central Indiana in the national spotlight.
In November, Holcomb announced he would extend the public health emergency spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic through the end of December. On Wednesday, Holcomb extended the order through February 1, 2022. He had signaled a willingness to bring the emergency to an end if the legislature passed three key provisions:
- Allow for the continuation of enhanced federal matching funds for Medicaid expenditures
- Allow for the continuation of the enhanced benefit for those receiving federal food assistance
- Extend the ability to efficiently vaccinate 5- to 11-year-olds
Holcomb announced on March 31 that he would end his weekly coronavirus briefings. Since then, Box and Weaver have held a few briefings to discuss things like the delta variant and Indiana’s vaccination progress.