Indiana health leaders warn COVID-19 risking hospital care

The public must take precautions such as wearing masks and avoiding gatherings with those outside their households more seriously to slow the COVID-19 spread, those leaders said during a briefing with Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Posted: Nov 19, 2020 10:45 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State health and hospital leaders warned Wednesday that Indiana could be facing months more of the surging coronavirus infections that have already started to overwhelm hospitals.

The public must take precautions such as wearing masks and avoiding gatherings with those outside their households more seriously to slow the COVID-19 spread, those leaders said during a briefing with Gov. Eric Holcomb.

Hospital executives said outpatient surgeries and screenings were being postponed so staffers could be reassigned to help handle the steep increase in coronavirus patients.

“We know we are up for a challenge here in the next few weeks to few months,” said Dr. Mark Luetkemeyer, the chief medical officer for IU Health’s Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis. “We’re readying ourselves to be as prepared as possible but ... we can’t keep this up for a long time.”

Nearly a quarter of Indiana’s counties are listed in the highest-risk category and Wednesday’s state health department update showed a 60% increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations over the past two weeks.

Health officials also reported updated death totals from the past few days, raising Sunday’s COVID-19 death toll to at least 52, pushing it past the previous daily high of 50 set during the initial surge in April.

Indiana has recorded 322 virus-related deaths in the past week alone.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box warned that the state is “going to continue to see our cases and our deaths skyrocket” if residents don’t take the right measures.

“We are on an exponential growth curve right now and we do not expect it to turn around quickly,” Box said. “In the next several weeks, we will continue to see cases climb, individuals hospitalized and, unfortunately, more deaths.”

Conditions inside hospitals nationwide are deteriorating with the coronavirus surge, leading some governors and mayors to issue tougher measures such as limits on gatherings and restricting the hours and capacity of some businesses.

Indiana’s rates of new COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths began a steep increase just after Holcomb lifted most restrictions on businesses and crowds in late September.

In that time, Indiana’s coronavirus hospitalizations have jumped 300% to a pandemic high of 3,040 patients as of Tuesday, and its seven-day rolling average COVID-19 deaths has jumped from 10 a day to 41, just short of the state’s peak in late April.

Holcomb has kept a statewide mask order in place since July, but not until last week did he reinstate crowd limits based on county risk levels while largely leaving enforcement to local officials.

Holcomb, who went into quarantine Tuesday and was awaiting testing after coronavirus exposure from infected security staff, said by phone that the virus spread was an outcome of some people “pretending” that wearing masks and social distancing don’t work.

“We know going into the next 30, 60 days that we need to do more of this, not less,” Holcomb said.

Memorial Hospital in South Bend has added 10 intensive care beds beyond its normal capacity because of additional COVID-19 patients, said Sarah Paturalski, the hospital’s vice president of nursing services.

That hospital and others are worried about not having enough health care workers to care for the quickly growing number of severely ill patients.

“Not only are we in a surge plan, we are already rationing care,” Paturalski said.

The state health department listed 21 of Indiana’s 92 counties in the highest of its four risk levels for coronavirus spread, up from nine last week.

They include northwestern Lake County, Indiana’s second-most populous, and Fort Wayne’s Allen County.

Officials listed 70 counties in the next-highest risk level and none received the lowest rating.

In early October, the state’s risk map only placed nine counties in the two greatest risk categories.

Those ratings are based on the number of new cases per 100,000 residents and the percentage of tests confirming COVID-19 infections.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 947918

Reported Deaths: 15377
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1291181990
Lake635721103
Allen53899761
Hamilton44082449
St. Joseph42122590
Elkhart33803491
Vanderburgh30574449
Tippecanoe26915251
Johnson23727418
Hendricks22410342
Porter21832347
Clark17562231
Madison17492385
Vigo16302285
Monroe14545191
LaPorte14389239
Delaware14183222
Howard13971273
Kosciusko11498135
Hancock10935166
Warrick10737178
Bartholomew10635170
Floyd10514208
Wayne10077226
Grant9213204
Morgan8928160
Boone8463111
Dubois7791123
Dearborn769490
Henry7691133
Noble7466101
Marshall7409128
Cass7219118
Lawrence7026153
Shelby6647111
Jackson661386
Gibson6190107
Harrison609386
Huntington604495
Montgomery5853105
DeKalb581091
Knox5535104
Miami548888
Putnam543268
Clinton537465
Whitley529354
Steuben501768
Wabash488692
Jasper483861
Jefferson474492
Ripley457777
Adams446068
Daviess4231108
Scott409165
Clay394957
White393858
Greene393392
Wells389884
Decatur388797
Fayette378578
Posey362341
Jennings356056
Washington334747
LaGrange325175
Spencer321136
Fountain318455
Randolph317190
Sullivan309449
Owen287064
Starke282864
Fulton280454
Orange277859
Jay257038
Perry254152
Carroll245229
Franklin242838
Rush237030
Vermillion235050
Parke221420
Tipton212055
Pike211740
Blackford170534
Pulaski168551
Crawford147318
Newton145845
Benton143916
Brown135846
Martin130217
Switzerland126910
Warren115616
Union98511
Ohio80511
Unassigned0482

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1390015

Reported Deaths: 21820
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1541781574
Cuyahoga1361632341
Hamilton989691326
Montgomery681371161
Summit569981051
Lucas51769869
Butler48139663
Stark42350983
Lorain32165539
Warren30497338
Mahoning27564643
Clermont26081297
Lake24873422
Delaware22600147
Licking20818246
Fairfield20789223
Greene20667275
Trumbull20378516
Medina20178290
Clark18235332
Richland16749236
Portage16442231
Wood15973209
Allen14405261
Miami14063261
Muskingum12976155
Wayne12234244
Columbiana12046242
Tuscarawas11248271
Marion10935150
Pickaway10642129
Scioto10585127
Erie9888171
Ross9648177
Lawrence8967125
Hancock8637143
Ashtabula8509187
Geauga8272156
Belmont8262188
Jefferson7736175
Huron7566131
Union743951
Washington7396126
Athens712065
Sandusky6984135
Darke6884137
Knox6839122
Seneca6533137
Ashland6078115
Auglaize596888
Shelby5845104
Brown578272
Mercer565890
Crawford5591117
Defiance5579101
Madison552171
Highland550982
Fulton543583
Clinton535781
Logan520587
Preble5123111
Putnam4909107
Guernsey487664
Williams469982
Perry464454
Champaign454964
Ottawa443584
Jackson436663
Pike400745
Morrow398251
Coshocton393669
Fayette385053
Adams371575
Hardin367570
Gallia356658
Holmes3326111
Henry331869
Van Wert321471
Hocking312370
Wyandot286058
Carroll267052
Paulding247443
Meigs223042
Monroe193149
Noble174442
Morgan170329
Harrison161741
Vinton141919
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
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A weak cold front brings slightly cooler air to the region Tuesday.
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