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Indiana reinstating surgery limits amid COVID-19 surge

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Indiana’s hospitals will have to postpone elective surgeries starting next week under an order the state’s governor said Wednesday was needed to free up hospital capacity amid steep recent increases in serious COVID-19 illnesses.

Posted: Dec 10, 2020 8:38 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s hospitals will have to postpone elective surgeries starting next week under an order the state’s governor said Wednesday was needed to free up hospital capacity amid steep recent increases in serious COVID-19 illnesses.

An initial shipment of some 55,000 doses of the first coronavirus vaccine is expected to arrive at Indiana hospitals next week as front-line health care workers start to receive shots.

CORONAVIRUS LIMITS

Gov. Eric Holcomb said that hospitals were being directed to postpone all non-urgent in-patient surgeries beginning Dec. 16 through Jan. 3.

Holcomb said Indiana is “on fire” with coronavirus spread as the number of Indiana counties with the highest risk level of coronavirus spread more than doubled in the state health department’s weekly update. The tracking map labels 36 of the state’s 92 counties the most dangerous red category, up from 16 a week ago. All other counties are in the next riskiest orange rating.

The state halted elective medical procedures for most of April. but Holcomb lifted that restriction as concerns eased about availability of equipment and protective gear. But Indiana’s hospitals are currently treating more than quadruple the number of COVID-19 patients than they were in September, with health officials worried about hospitals being overwhelmed.

“Our nurses and our doctors, understandably, are overwhelmed and beyond exhausted ... to go into one of the toughest environments that anyone in our state’s history has had to face on a day in, day out basis,” Holcomb said.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said the surgery restrictions will allow hospitals to shift health care workers to help care for patients with COVID-19.

Holcomb, a Republican, said he was extending the statewide mask order and toughening restrictions on crowd sizes that he reinstated in mid-November.

The new rules will prevent local health departments from allowing exemptions for social gatherings of more than 25 people in counties with red ratings and more than 50 people in orange-rated counties. Religious services are exempt from those limits.

Sports and extracurricular events for K-12 schools in red counties can have only participants and parents in attendance, while professional and college sports events are limited to 25% capacity with local health department approval of safety plans.

VACCINE PLAN

Indiana is scheduled to receive about 55,000 doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine next week if it gains the Food and Drug Administration’s expected authorization for emergency use, said Dr. Lindsay Weaver, the state health department’s chief medical officer.

Those first vaccines will be shipped to five hospitals around the state: Clark Memorial in Jeffersonville, Deaconess in Evansville, IU Health Methodist in Indianapolis, Community Hospital in Munster and Parkview in Fort Wayne. Those hospitals were picked for geographic diversity and their ability to provide the ultracold storage needed for the vaccine, Weaver said.

Indiana’s plan calls for some 400,000 healthcare workers to make up the first wave of those receiving shots during December. That includes doctors, nurses, dentists, first responders, laboratory workers and medical students. Those vaccinations will be performed at 50 hospitals statewide.

STATEWIDE TOLL

The state’s 36 red-rated counties are predominantly rural, but include northwestern Indiana’s Lake County, Fort Wayne’s Allen County and five counties adjoining Indianapolis.

The worsening county ratings come as Indiana’s number of COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations have spiked far past the state’s peaks during the initial surge of cases during the spring.

Health officials on Wednesday added 98 confirmed recent COVID-19 deaths in recent days to the statewide toll. Those push Indiana’s toll to 6,506, including both confirmed and presumed infections.

The state’s seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 deaths has reached 67 per day after that average fell below 10 a day during July following an April peak of 42 a day.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1011197

Reported Deaths: 16524
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1359292129
Lake666181167
Allen58254802
Hamilton46498467
St. Joseph44559617
Elkhart36044510
Vanderburgh32333481
Tippecanoe28037260
Johnson25196446
Hendricks23960360
Porter22985367
Madison18820410
Clark18609253
Vigo17530303
Monroe15319200
LaPorte15230252
Delaware15127264
Howard14801290
Kosciusko12410149
Hancock11773176
Bartholomew11695180
Warrick11305189
Floyd11138215
Wayne11023253
Grant10131220
Morgan9506177
Boone8965116
Dubois8281131
Henry8252153
Dearborn823493
Noble8064106
Marshall7981135
Cass7556123
Lawrence7479172
Shelby7216119
Jackson700990
Gibson6614115
Harrison651892
Huntington6447100
Knox6427106
DeKalb6363100
Montgomery6293112
Miami595298
Putnam584179
Clinton579271
Whitley568455
Steuben566876
Wabash5363104
Jasper536180
Jefferson513297
Ripley501987
Adams483777
Daviess4684115
Scott439875
Greene427296
Clay426960
Wells426088
White420964
Decatur4177104
Fayette407387
Jennings390262
Posey377544
LaGrange361778
Washington360451
Randolph3476100
Spencer340743
Fountain336160
Sullivan330852
Starke319171
Owen315571
Fulton313468
Orange295064
Jay285546
Franklin266443
Perry265752
Rush263832
Carroll262434
Vermillion259854
Parke232029
Pike229643
Tipton229059
Blackford195042
Pulaski184657
Crawford160125
Newton159848
Benton151217
Brown147047
Martin139319
Switzerland135311
Warren121416
Union107216
Ohio84613
Unassigned0544

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