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Indiana Department of Health: Hospitalizations at a 5-year high

dec 29 covid 19 update
Posted at 6:29 PM, Dec 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-29 18:29:05-05

INDIANAPOLIS — Hospitalizations across Indiana are at a five-year high and supplies, including COVID-19 therapeutic treatments, are in limited supply, state officials said Wednesday.

And some of the monoclonal antibody treatments won't work against the COVID-19 omicron variant, Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for the Indiana Department of Health, said. Only one does and supplies are extremely limited.

"While it is encouraging to see science develop to meet the challenges covid throws our way, it is important to remember that there simply is not enough medicine to go around right now," Weaver said. "And do not bank on being able to get a therapeutic when you need it. It will take time to increase supplies and distribute these treatments and none of them are 100 % effective"

While there are other treatments to help people who have tested positive for COVID-19, Weaver said the state has low supplies of them.

"Bottom line, don't rely on natural immunity to protect you," Weaver said.

She said vaccinations remain the number one way to prevent severe illness.

"Please get vaccinated and get your booster shot," Weaver said.

This is why state health officials and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said during a press conference Wednesday they are encouraging everyone is eligible to get vaccinated.

Holcomb said the state is getting curveballs with the COVID-19 variants.

During the press conference, Holcomb announced he signed an extension of the state's public health emergency orders. He said he will continue to work with the state legislature.

Given the latest surge and the impact it's having on communities, he said the extension needed to be signed.

Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, said the nation, including here in Indiana, is dealing with a shortage of COVID-19 tests.

As of now, the delta variant remains the dominant strain in the state, Box said, but omicron is expected to become the dominant strain soon.

"This situation will get worse before it improves," Box said.

On Monday, the clinic at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway saw a 28% test positivity rate with the COVID-19 rapid tests, Box said.

More appointments are being added at the IMS site, but even with an appointment, Box said people should be prepared to wait.

Box also said surgical masks or KN95 masks provide better protection than cloth masks. She said she is encouraging people to wear masks inside and in large groups outside but there is no plan for a statewide mask mandate.

Box spoke about the toll of the COVID-19 pandemic and said the best way to get back to more normal times is to get vaccinated.

Weaver said hospitals are seeing a "significant increase" in COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state. She said people are being treated in hallways and conference rooms.

Of those hospitalized, about 80% are not vaccinated, Weaver said.

Weaver reminded people not to come to emergency rooms to get a COVID-19 test because it puts additional stress on hospitals.

State health vaccination clinics will no longer offer Johnson & Johnson vaccines due to its lower efficacy and the risk of blood clots. It will still be offered at other sites in the state.

Weaver acknowledged there have been breakthrough cases among those vaccinated, but only .05% of those breakthrough cases have been hospitalized.

Holcomb encouraged people who are vaccinated and boosted to also be a trusted individual and talk with more people about getting them vaccinated.

Holcomb thanked healthcare workers for their efforts and said they are making a "huge difference."

"I know how tired you are," Holcomb said. "You are making a difference one family at a time."

Holcomb said misinformation and disinformation are concerns and counterproductive to getting through the COVID-19 pandemic. He also said he was "stunned" by comments from Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita about not trusting the data.

Box said the state health department is working with the Indiana Department of Correction and long-term care facilities to get them booster shots.