Governor Holcomb reacts to surge in new coronavirus cases due to delta variant

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WESTFIELD, Ind. – Governor Eric Holcomb is continuing to urge Hoosiers to get vaccinated amid the surge in new COVID-19 cases due to the delta variant.

Holcomb addressed the rising numbers when speaking with reporters in Westfield Tuesday.

“If this isn’t persuasive to get vaccinated, I don’t know what could be,” Holcomb said.

When asked if he would require Indiana’s state employees to get vaccinated, Holcomb said, “I’m not leaning toward that, but obviously I’ve got some updates to make by probably the end of this week. And so we’re looking at what the CDC just put out maybe as we speak.”

Holcomb did not elaborate further on what those updates may include.

Holcomb said he also hopes the vaccines get full FDA approval soon.

“I do hear and I do understand parents, students who are waiting until it becomes permanent,” Holcomb said of the emergency use authorization each of the vaccines has currently.

He’s also urging schools to take every safety precaution possible so kids aren’t forced to return to remote learning.

“I would recommend taking every safe step possible, imaginable, doable to keep the kiddos in school,” Holcomb said. “We have seen what a whacking our kiddos have taken with the pandemic over this last year in terms of learning loss, etc. So we don’t want to watch the same movie again.”

Community Health Network has already seen a significant surge in hospitalizations, according to Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive.

“The number of hospitalizations has doubled in the past two weeks or so,” Dr. Yeleti said.

COVID-19 hospitalizations within Community Health Network are back at levels not seen since May, Dr. Yeleti said. It’s part of the reason some of the company’s hospitals are running at capacity, he added.

“North, East and South – all three are very tight right now,” Yeleti said.

“What I’m worried about is that these patients staying in the hospital a lot longer, so they are taking more beds and more space, and that just makes it more difficult for other people with non-COVID issues to get into the hospital as well,” he explained.

Dr. Yeleti said he supports the CDC’s updated indoor mask guidance because of how contagious the delta variant is. 

Dr. Peter Embí, president and CEO of the Regenstrief Institute, agrees.

“It’s a very prudent thing to try to prevent another major outbreak,” Dr. Embí said.

Rates of breakthrough cases remain very low at 0.1% in Indiana, proving the vaccines are still effective, Dr. Embí said.

The virus is spreading most in places where vaccination rates are lower, particularly some rural areas, Dr. Embí said. 

Just over 50% of the state’s eligible population being fully vaccinated isn’t enough, Dr. Embí said.

“Perhaps because they are seeing more of this in the news and a bit more time has passed, we are starting to see some more people going and getting vaccinated, but the numbers are still not what we want them to be,” he said.

The delta variant now makes up more than 80% of new coronavirus cases in Indiana, Dr. Embí said.

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