IU Health executive worries January could be another tough month for COVID-19 deaths

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INDIANAPOLIS, In. – December was the deadliest month for COVID-19 in Indiana and hospitals worry January will be bad as well. In the last month and a half, the state has seen about 35 percent of its total COVID-19 deaths.

More than 2,300 Hoosiers died of COVID-19 in December. As of Thursday, coronavirus has killed more than 660 Hoosiers in January.

At Indiana University Health, more than double the number of patients died of coronavirus in December in comparison to November.

“So far, we have had 88 in January in the first 14 days so we are on track, and hopefully that won’t happen, but we are worried about another 200 death month at IU Health,” said Dr. Paul Calkins, Associate Chief Medical Executive for IU Health.

Statewide, it appears deaths have been trending down so far in January and that might be because cases also went down in mid-December. Deaths typically lag a few weeks behind newly reported cases.

“Deaths might be declining but there is too much death. And there’s too much disease,” said Dr. Calkins.

Hospital staff are still waiting to see if the state will see a post-holiday surge. As of right now, it does not look like Indiana is experiencing a surge after Christmas and New Years.

“It looks like we have been lucky that we haven’t seen that at least yet, and it is getting far enough out that if it doesn’t come soon it’s probably not going to come,” Dr. Calkins explained.

As we get further away from the holidays, he is getting more hopeful. If cases do not explode, Dr. Calkins said projections on deaths will hopefully come down.

He’s staying cautiously optimistic as more healthcare workers and seniors get vaccinated. IU Health has had a thousand people on quarantine a day.

“So we not only had the problem of many many patients but we have fewer team members than we normally should have,” he said.

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