INDIANAPOLIS––“Hoosiers, COVID is still here and it is not going away any time soon. Please be vigilant and don’t let your guard down,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box at Wednesday’s coronavirus update.
Dr. Box was joined by Chief Medical Officer Lindsay Weaver for the first public COVID-19 briefing since March 31.
ISDH reported 1,272 more positive coronavirus cases Wednesday and announced 19 additional confirmed COVID-19 deaths. Dr. Box explained the latest ISDH data indicates the state’s 7-day all-test positivity rate of 4.6%, with a cumulative rate of 8.9% positive.
Since the start of the pandemic, the state health department has reported 717,564 total positive cases and 12,902 total deaths in Indiana.
Dr. Box reported that there are currently 1,100 cases of the coronavirus variant in Indiana–with the UK variant becoming the most dominant. She announced the state will be adding a feature to the COVID-19 dashboard at Coronavirus.In.Gov which will identify the types of variants and breakdown the case numbers.
She said daily hospital admissions for COVID-19 are lower than November, but have still been trending up in the past few weeks. Dr. Box wants to see those numbers trend back down.
Dr. Box reported that the federal government is encouraging testing in schools, but the state of Indiana has not mandated testing in schools. The state will continue to promote self-screening at home and encourage residents and students to take advantage of over 300 testing sites across Indiana.
Indiana has adopted the CDC guidelines for fully vaccinated residents at long-term care facilities, said Dr. Box.
Dr. Weaver shared the breakdown of numbers as part of the state’s vaccination effort. She reported only one third of eligible Hoosiers are vaccinated.
Dr. Weaver said we need to reach younger age groups as the greatest increase of COVID-19 cases are in the ages of the 20s and 30s–where vaccination rate is lowest.
She noted that Indiana is seeing a decline in vaccine demand, that’s why the state is continuing to promote availability.
Dr. Weaver cited tools used over the past months to remove barriers and construct the statewide public awareness campaigns including radio and TV spots, as well billboards and bus wraps.
She explained the use of the FEMA public awareness system in Marion County and Gary. Dr. Weaver said the state wanted to assure Hoosiers in Central Indiana that the Johnson & Johnson and the Pfizer vaccines were available and no appointment was needed.
These public alerts are valuable tools, and “we do not take its use lightly,” said Dr. Weaver. She added that the number of scheduled appointments at the mass vaccine clinic at IMS doubled after the alert and walk-in traffic increased.
While some residents continue to be concerned about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, Dr. Weaver restated that the CDC lifted the pause after rare blood clotting was found in a few patients–seven cases per 1 million among women, less than 1 per million in men–far less than the risk of blood clotting after contracting the coronavirus.
“The best vaccine is the one that you can get in your arm today,” said Dr. Weaver.