INDIANAPOLIS — The number of cases, hospitalizations, and positivity rate in Marion County have started going back up in the last month. Those are the same three metrics the health department was tracking while considering removing restrictions earlier this summer.
So, could things be changing again? CBS4’s Bianca Reyes took those questions to the Marion County Public Health Department.
On August 5, Marion County saw an additional 257 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and the positivity rate rose to roughly 8.5% according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.
“Everything’s increasing,” said Dr. Thomas Duszynski, Director of Epidemiology Education at Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, adding that hospitalizations and case counts are going up, too.
“I think from a public health perspective, our concern is that we need to keep community transmission down,” said Dr. Duszynski.
Although vaccinations are slowly trending up, health officials say the delta variant is still a major concern.
“I think the messaging should be clearer that even if you are vaccinated, you know, wearing masks when we’re indoors when you have something like the delta variant is going to be important,” Dr. Duszynski said.
Important, but not required in large indoor gatherings like the FDIC conference at the Indianapolis Convention Center. According to the center’s website, masks are strongly encouraged for staff and visitors.
Despite rising cases and the growing positivity rate, the Marion County Health Department has not changed any current restrictions on major events or gatherings.
When asked specifically what metrics the health department is tracking when considering restrictions and if it had concerns about bigger events coming to the county, health officials issued a statement saying:
The Marion County Public Health Department continues to closely monitor local COVID-19 data – including the positivity rate and hospitalizations – as well as national trends and recommendations from CDC.
Vaccination remains the strongest tool against COVID-19, and the data from billions of doses administered around the world shows that vaccination is our path out of this pandemic. Vaccination lessens a person’s risk of death from COVID by about 100-fold. The Health Department continues to urge all eligible residents ages 12 and up to walk-in and get vaccinated today.
In addition to the vaccine, masks provide an added layer of protection. That is why, in line with the most recent CDC guidance as the Delta variant continues to take hold in Marion County, the Marion County Public Health Department last week recommended that all residents wear masks in indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status.
With everyone’s help in taking these steps, we can slow the spread of this virus and lessen its impact here in Marion County. The Health Department will remain in close communication with the City-County Council about the ongoing efforts to keep our community safe.Marion County Public Health Department
However, the statement did not address potential restrictions or anything about major events or gatherings.
The Indianapolis Convention Center also issued a statement saying:
Following the July 27 recommendations from the Marion County Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium (ICCLOS) encourages all visitors to wear facemasks while indoors.
ICCLOS works closely with all event organizers to implement their event health plan—a comprehensive set of guidelines which can include social distancing measures, event-specific entrances and exits, and mask mandates for attendees and staff inside the facility. Earlier this year, ICCLOS earned the gold-standard STAR™ accreditation from the Global Biorisk Advisory Council® for maintaining a clean and healthy environment. Major facility improvements made over the last year—including hospital-grade air filters, plexiglass sneeze guards, and touchless toilets, sinks, and soap dispensers— remain in place.
As we have demonstrated throughout the last year, hosting events like the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and the 2021 GK U.S. Classic, ICCLOS is a model for facilities across the nation when it comes to COVID-19 mitigation.”Indianapolis Convention Center