Indiana daily COVID-19 cases spike back to January levels

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Coronavirus delta variant. (File/Getty)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana on Wednesday reported more than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases in a single day for the first time since early January, amid a surge in infections and hospitalizations that comes just weeks after the state recorded pandemic lows.

The state recorded 5,037 new cases of the coronavirus, up from 3,558 one week ago. It’s the highest one-day total since Jan. 10, according to the state Health Department.

Indiana first crossed the 5,000-case threshold last November, prompting Gov. Eric Holcomb to issue restrictions for businesses and schools in counties where virus spread spiked.

Since ending a statewide mask requirement in May, the Republican governor has maintained that he will leave decisions about restrictions, including mask rules, to local officials.

The state Health Department’s latest report also showed that hospitals around the state were treating 2,048 patients for COVID-19 as of Tuesday — a nearly 30% jump in one week and up more than five times for the state’s level of about 400 patients a day six weeks ago in early July.

Hospitals reported treating 529 people with COVID-19 in intensive care units, taking up 24% of available ICU beds, compared with about 65 patients in 3% of ICU space in early July.

The latest hospitalization count is the highest reported by the state since Jan. 24. ICU admissions are the most recorded since Jan. 18.

Deaconess Health System in Evansville reported Monday that it has 150 COVID-positive hospitalized patients — 129 of whom are “not vaccinated.” Of the 52 infected patients in the ICU, all but three are unvaccinated, according to the hospital system.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Union Health Foundation announced that Terre Haute’s Union Hospital had 54 hospitalized patients with COVID-19. Fourteen patients were admitted to the hospital’s ICU, which only holds 10 beds. None of the ICU patients are vaccinated, according to the foundation.

The foundation said the COVID unit and ICU have been full for several days, with confirmed COVID-19 patients waiting in other departments for a bed.

The Indiana Hospital Association said last week that the dramatic increase in hospitalizations was straining health care workers and causing some hospitals to reschedule non-emergency surgeries.

The association urged greater COVID-19 vaccinations, saying 98% of coronavirus-related hospitalizations since January have been unvaccinated patients. About 52% of Indiana residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the 16th lowest rate among the states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Monday, 67 counties were in Indiana’s second-riskiest category for the spread of the virus, up from 62 counties a week earlier, according to the most recent update posted Wednesday on the state’s coronavirus dashboard.

Indiana’s color-coded coronavirus risk map reflects weekly COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents and the seven-day positivity rate.

Sixteen counties are in the highest-risk red category, which indicates very high community spread, up from 11 last week.

Only nine counties are listed as moderate-risk, or yellow, a drop from 19 a week ago. For the second week in a row, no Indiana county is blue — low risk.

Tests conducted this month on a sample of Indiana’s cases showed that as of Wednesday, nearly 98% were the delta variant, the dashboard showed.

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