COVID-19 patients strain Indiana hospitals as virus surges

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Indiana’s rapid surge in coronavirus infections, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, is again straining hospitals as patient admissions spike to levels not recorded since last winter’s surge.

Posted: Sep 9, 2021 8:37 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s rapid surge in coronavirus infections, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, is again straining hospitals as patient admissions spike to levels not recorded since last winter’s surge.

The state Health Department’s latest report showed that the current COVID-19 surge has boosted Indiana hospitalizations to 2,513 patients as of Tuesday. That's double the number of patients from a month ago and a level hospitals didn’t see until pandemic-highs in early November.

Hospitals reported treating 680 people with COVID-19 in intensive care units, taking up more than 31% of available ICU beds. Statewide, just over 80% of all ICU beds are occupied.

Some Indiana hospitals have announced delays in some non-emergency surgeries, while others have started diverting ambulances away from their emergency rooms and intensive care units.

As of Monday, Indiana University Health, the state's largest hospital system, began to put off all elective inpatient procedures for at least two weeks. Hospital officials said the suspension will be extended if needed in two-week periods.

Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis has also canceled all such procedures through at least Sept. 24.

Major Health Partners in Shelby County said that COVID-19 admissions have increased “significantly” in the last 30 days. The Shelbyville hospital has reached capacity — with one inpatient bed available as of Wednesday — and staff have been “stretched to their limits," hospital president and CEO Jack Horner said in a statement.

Gov. Eric Holcomb's latest statewide executive order released last week does not impose any restrictions on surgical procedures as he had done during last year’s coronavirus surges.

The Republican governor's new rules instead instruct hospitals to make “evidence-based decisions” and to suspend elective procedures when necessary.

The order also requires hospitals to report daily to the state about when they go on diversion, and to share how many adult and pediatric beds they have on a daily basis.

About 53.6% 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. State health officials, meanwhile, say 98% of recent COVID-19 hospitalizations are for unvaccinated people.

Of the 1,442 new COVID-19 admissions to Indiana hospitals during the week of Aug. 22-29, less than 20 of those were vaccinated individuals, according to the state health department.

The coronavirus risk ratings updated weekly by the Indiana State Health Department now put nearly all counties in the higher risk categories for COVID-19 spread.

Those updated ratings, released Wednesday, placed 21 of Indiana’s 92 counties in the highest-risk red category, the most since mid-January.

Sixty-eight counties received the next-highest orange rating. Only three counties were in the lower-level yellow category. A month ago, just one county was listed as red and 62 had the lowest-level yellow and blue ratings as the highly contagious delta variant was hitting the state.

State health officials have maintained that if more Hoosiers don’t get vaccinated and wear masks, virus spread and hospitalizations will worsen though at least early October. They've also attributed the recent surge, in part, to students' return to schools.

More than 6,300 new cases were reported among Indiana students in the state health department's weekly update of the its coronavirus school dashboard on Tuesday. Only about 1,000 of those cases dated back to the previous week, however.

The dashboard also reported 338 new cases among teachers and 488 new cases among other school staff employees.

Still, the dashboard data doesn’t provide the full scope of virus spread within schools. More than 700 schools — nearly one-third of all Indiana schools — have not reported cases to the state’s dashboard as mandated by law since the start of the new academic year.

A health department spokesperson said state health officials are “exploring options" to compel schools to comply.

___

Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1003647

Reported Deaths: 16423
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1351072116
Lake661851159
Allen57674800
Hamilton46217464
St. Joseph44210611
Elkhart35807508
Vanderburgh32162480
Tippecanoe27859258
Johnson25007444
Hendricks23795357
Porter22856365
Madison18694408
Clark18505252
Vigo17393303
Monroe15218199
LaPorte15101250
Delaware15024261
Howard14681289
Kosciusko12260147
Hancock11682175
Bartholomew11548180
Warrick11270189
Floyd11059214
Wayne10946253
Grant10019219
Morgan9438176
Boone8891116
Dubois8249131
Dearborn819893
Henry8174152
Noble8003106
Marshall7891135
Cass7519121
Lawrence7433171
Shelby7171119
Jackson695889
Gibson6567115
Harrison646691
Huntington636899
Knox6360106
DeKalb628699
Montgomery6229109
Miami591498
Putnam577678
Clinton572171
Whitley563455
Steuben558976
Wabash5309103
Jasper527879
Jefferson509297
Ripley498686
Adams479775
Daviess4653114
Scott438473
Greene423596
Wells422588
Clay421360
White417364
Decatur4152102
Fayette405787
Jennings385961
Posey375844
Washington356150
LaGrange356078
Randolph343499
Spencer338743
Fountain333860
Sullivan327852
Starke315570
Owen313970
Fulton309167
Orange292663
Jay283445
Franklin265143
Perry264852
Rush260832
Carroll260633
Vermillion257254
Parke230426
Pike228443
Tipton227259
Blackford191841
Pulaski183157
Crawford159023
Newton156848
Benton150217
Brown145747
Martin138019
Switzerland134811
Warren120816
Union107016
Ohio84213
Unassigned0540

COVID-19 Important links and resources

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