Indiana Department of Health recommends - not requiring - COVID-19 vaccine, masks

Indiana’s top health officials made pleas Friday for people to get vaccinated and continue wearing masks as an especially contagious coronavirus variant spreads throughout the state, but they said they had no plans to reinstate statewide health mandates.

Posted: Jul 30, 2021 5:22 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s top health officials made pleas Friday for people to get vaccinated and continue wearing masks as an especially contagious coronavirus variant spreads throughout the state, but they said they had no plans to reinstate statewide health mandates.

In recent weeks, the number of new COVID-19 cases in Indiana “bounced back up” to rates comparable to a year ago, the state’s health commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, said during a news conference.

Although the state had well below 2,000 new confirmed cases per week in June, it is now seeing 4,000 to 6,000 cases per week.

The biggest threat is from the delta variant, which spreads more easily than previous versions of the coronavirus.

Tests conducted this month on a sample of Indiana’s cases showed that as of Friday, more than 94% of them were the “highly viral” strain.

Although Box emphasized that “we have the most powerful tool available to prevent disease in the form of three highly effective vaccines,” only about 44% of Indiana’s total population, including children younger than 12 who aren’t eligible, is fully vaccinated against the virus.

That lags behind the national average of 49.4% and far behind the state with the highest vaccination rate, Vermont, where more than two-thirds of the population — 67.4% — is inoculated.

Since the beginning of the month, the percentage of fully vaccinated individuals has risen somewhat in every age group, said the state health department’s chief medical officer, Dr. Lindsay Weaver.

The biggest increase has been among the 12- to 15-year-olds, who have gone from 17% fully vaccinated to 21%.

The next highest increase has been among Hoosiers ages 16 to 19, who are now more than 34% vaccinated.

With schools returning at full capacity, Box said Indiana still doesn’t have enough students who are vaccinated.

She said state health officials are “strongly recommending” that every district follow the CDC’s recommendations for masking, vaccinations, contact tracing and quarantining.

But specific action plans “are local decisions now,” Box said. Although health officials are giving “strong guidance” to schools and businesses, she said Indiana “is very much a state” that feels such control “should be in the hands of the elected officials.”

“We have given Hoosiers the tools that they need, the information, the education, the ability to get vaccinated. We have provided that over and over and over again,” Box said. “We do believe that it comes down to some personal responsibility for Hoosiers across the state to make those decisions for themselves and in their own communities.”

Indianapolis’ school district said Thursday that it will require all students and staff to wear masks while indoors.

Purdue University issued the same rules on Friday, joining most other Indiana colleges on mask guidance but leaving vaccination optional.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said again this week that he won’t implement any new statewide restrictions, despite the COVID-19 resurgence.

He cited the surge in infections as he issued an extension Thursday of the statewide public health emergency until Aug. 30.

That extension didn’t reimpose any statewide face mask requirements or crowd-size limits that expired in April.

The decision came as the number of Indiana counties approaching high risk for community spread of COVID-19 nearly quadrupled in one week.

The state’s new coronavirus hospitalizations for COVID-19 also rebounded this month to levels last seen in May.

Indiana additionally topped 14,000 presumed or confirmed coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, though Box said the rate of such deaths remains at the lowest levels since the start of the pandemic.

Weaver cautioned that could change, however, noting that 96% of the state’s recoded coronavirus-related deaths have occurred in unvaccinated individuals.

“Until we increase our vaccination rates, and unless we use every tool available to us to stop the spread of disease, this virus will continue to have the advantage,” Box said. “It will continue to mutate, and we will be constantly playing whack a mole for the foreseeable future.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1011197

Reported Deaths: 16524
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1359292129
Lake666181167
Allen58254802
Hamilton46498467
St. Joseph44559617
Elkhart36044510
Vanderburgh32333481
Tippecanoe28037260
Johnson25196446
Hendricks23960360
Porter22985367
Madison18820410
Clark18609253
Vigo17530303
Monroe15319200
LaPorte15230252
Delaware15127264
Howard14801290
Kosciusko12410149
Hancock11773176
Bartholomew11695180
Warrick11305189
Floyd11138215
Wayne11023253
Grant10131220
Morgan9506177
Boone8965116
Dubois8281131
Henry8252153
Dearborn823493
Noble8064106
Marshall7981135
Cass7556123
Lawrence7479172
Shelby7216119
Jackson700990
Gibson6614115
Harrison651892
Huntington6447100
Knox6427106
DeKalb6363100
Montgomery6293112
Miami595298
Putnam584179
Clinton579271
Whitley568455
Steuben566876
Wabash5363104
Jasper536180
Jefferson513297
Ripley501987
Adams483777
Daviess4684115
Scott439875
Greene427296
Clay426960
Wells426088
White420964
Decatur4177104
Fayette407387
Jennings390262
Posey377544
LaGrange361778
Washington360451
Randolph3476100
Spencer340743
Fountain336160
Sullivan330852
Starke319171
Owen315571
Fulton313468
Orange295064
Jay285546
Franklin266443
Perry265752
Rush263832
Carroll262434
Vermillion259854
Parke232029
Pike229643
Tipton229059
Blackford195042
Pulaski184657
Crawford160125
Newton159848
Benton151217
Brown147047
Martin139319
Switzerland135311
Warren121416
Union107216
Ohio84613
Unassigned0544

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1524169

Reported Deaths: 23955
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1646591696
Cuyahoga1468932459
Hamilton1056051431
Montgomery742551279
Summit620221111
Lucas56539917
Butler51696718
Stark468601064
Lorain35783585
Warren32903377
Mahoning30927693
Clermont28271330
Lake27179448
Delaware24263164
Licking24027294
Trumbull22993561
Fairfield22438247
Greene22414326
Medina22149313
Clark19920354
Richland18643292
Portage18073252
Wood17505224
Allen16054279
Miami15627306
Muskingum14890185
Columbiana14153274
Wayne13852271
Tuscarawas12777311
Marion12016180
Scioto11497162
Pickaway11386142
Erie10951184
Ross10614203
Ashtabula9809204
Lawrence9783153
Hancock9741155
Belmont9333209
Geauga9008157
Jefferson8600199
Huron8427143
Union822259
Washington8114144
Sandusky7875151
Athens779579
Knox7766144
Darke7695158
Seneca7405145
Ashland6993130
Auglaize681799
Shelby6540115
Brown640091
Crawford6292130
Defiance6241105
Mercer617893
Fulton605196
Highland602899
Guernsey596371
Madison595678
Logan594596
Clinton585193
Preble5730125
Putnam5354110
Williams530888
Perry519863
Champaign514273
Jackson512473
Ottawa490586
Coshocton488383
Morrow460558
Pike435067
Fayette430363
Hardin420780
Gallia419367
Adams417995
Van Wert374082
Henry366972
Holmes3653125
Hocking357582
Wyandot325262
Carroll304365
Paulding280747
Meigs267251
Monroe216254
Noble201247
Morgan194333
Harrison182646
Vinton167225
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
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Hi: 54° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 44°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
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Hi: 51° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 42°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 44°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 44°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 43°
After a soggy couple of days, the sunshine returns Tuesday and highs top out in the middle 50s.
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