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Indiana’s COVID-19 cases dropping but doctor says, ‘It’s not over yet’

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Indiana’s COVID-19 cases appear to be in decline, with the Indiana Department of Health reporting 6,615 new daily cases Thursday. That’s compared with record highs in January of over 17,000 daily cases. 

The state's seven-day positivity rate is now just over 26%, down several percentage points from last week. Indiana reported 57 new deaths.

But Floyd County Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris said though it’s good to see the cases dropping, there are still far too many infections. He said it’s not time to relax yet. 

“The numbers are better but there are still a ton of people sick, and I think that part of the message is largely getting lost,” Harris said. “And herein lies the problem: people think it's sort of over and it's not over yet.”

Health officials have widely reported the omicron variant is overall causing less severe illness in most people who get the virus. But the highly-transmissible strain has meant high numbers of those who do become very sick or die. 

Data from the Indiana Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard show that, in January, the state’s hospital census for people with the virus reached 3,500, topping both the next highest surge in December 2020, and the delta wave in fall. 

And as of Wednesday, around 12% of ICU beds and 72% of ventilators were available statewide. Harris said the omicron surge has been a strain on hospitals, but that staff have risen to the challenge, reallocating resources to help care for patients. 

“The bad news is that, even though the omicron spike is sort of just that — a rapid increase and then in Europe and Africa they saw a fairly rapid decrease — we’ve still got a lot of people sick currently,” he said. “And it's really going to be two to four weeks before we start to see a significant decline in numbers, I think.”

Floyd County reported 127 new cases Thursday with a seven-day positivity rate of nearly 30%. Clark County had 354 new cases and one new death, with a positivity rate of just under 31%. 

The state map which tracks COVID-19 spread still shows all Indiana counties in red, the highest level of spread, as of the weekly update on Wednesday. The map uses the number of cases per 100,000 residents and seven-day positivity rate to determine spread.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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