‘It is the light’: Indiana governor, officials react to vaccine arrival

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — “There’s light at the end of the tunnel. But that doesn’t mean we get to relax on the things that have helped us get to this point. We gotta play this all the way through,” said Governor Eric Holcomb during Wednesday’s briefing on the state’s response to COVID-19.

Holcomb was joined by other state officials, including State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver who discussed the arrival and dispersal of the new coronavirus vaccine across Indiana.

Dr. Box was noticeably overwhelmed after a video of the vaccine arrival in Indiana. With tearful eyes, she said, “We are still in the tunnel, but it is the light!”

Dr. Box echoed Governor Holcomb by asking Hoosiers to remember that it will still be a number of months before we can get enough doses for everyone, so we must continue to wear our masks and follow the guidelines.

Gov. Holcomb said he will “absolutely” be getting the COVID-19 vaccine, but said he won’t cut in line. He said he’s the “farthest thing” from a frontline worker or high-risk individual.

With the holidays approaching, Holcomb also urged Hoosiers to keep up the physical distancing, hand washing and mask wearing. He said like precautions leading up to Thanksgiving, the same is true as Indiana approaches the end of the year.

The governor also mentioned his visit with Vice President Mike Pence to Bloomington’s  Catalent Biologics Tuesday afternoon. The Vice President toured a lab facility and led a roundtable discussion on Operation Warp Speed.

On Wednesday, Guardsmen, Airmen and Soldiers with the Indiana National Guard began getting vaccinated. Indiana and New York are reportedly the only two Nation Guard states in the country being provided this opportunity by the Department of Defense.

On Wednesday, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reported only 11.2% of ICU beds are available statewide. Of the total 2,134 capacity, 48.9% are being used by non-COVID patients and 39.9% are being used by patients with or recovering from COVID-19.

Dr. Box said the county metric numbers are slightly better than last week, but it does not mean counties can behave like they are in a lower color. According to Dr. Box, cases remain high and continue to stress Indiana’s hospital systems and all of the numbers can change quickly. 

500 people were admitted to Indiana’s hospitals on December 7 with COVID or COVID-like symptoms, the highest to date. Dr. Box said there were 320 deaths since Sunday of this week, bringing the total to 6,781 coronavirus deaths recorded in Indiana.

Dr. Weaver also spoke on the vaccine deployment, and said a data dashboard will be created to track vaccination data for the state. She added that an “army” of medical and nursing students have volunteered to help administer the vaccine across facilities across Indiana.

Governor Holcomb announced next week’s press conference will take place on Tuesday.

According to the state’s health officials, Hoosiers should focus on these 10 things as we continue to navigate the pandemic:

  1. Limit the size of gatherings based on the new metric restrictions
  2. Pause non-emergent inpatient procedures in hospitals to free up hospital beds
  3. Follow the mask mandate
  4. Keep 6 feet from others while masking up whether social-distanced or not
  5. Wash hands throughout the day
  6. Get tested if you are sick or symptomatic
  7. Stay home and isolate if you test positive for COVID-19
  8. Employers should talk to employees about best practices outside of work
  9. Donate blood and donate to food pantries if you are able
  10. Stay informed about vaccine distribution in 2021

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