Holcomb holds first COVID update in months


With COVID-19 surging across Indiana and the rest of the country, Gov. Eric Holcomb recently decided to give an update — the first in almost three months — about how coronavirus is affecting Hoosiers.

He was joined during a news conference Wednesday by Dr. Kristina Box, the state’s health commissioner, and Dr. Lindsey Weaver, chief medical officer for the state health department. The last news conference was Sept. 29.

Holcomb said in the past year the state has experienced “ups and downs in terms of our public health” but Hoosiers have had more information to make better decisions.

He said there have been some curveballs thrown at the state’s pandemic recovery efforts, specifically mentioning the delta and omicron COVID-19 variants.

More than ever before, unvaccinated people are overwhelmingly ending up in the hospital, Holcomb said.

The governor also thanked the state’s “heroic” healthcare workers and hospital networks.

“I want to say thank you because you have gone way up and above and beyond over and over and over again,” he said. “I know how tired you are. You’re making a huge difference one family at a time.”

Holcomb also spoke about the apprehensive attitudes people have developed about the vaccine.

“For the life of me, I struggle to think about how some folks trust the most lethal virus that most anyone living today has been exposed to — that’s had a strangle grip on the world — how you would trust your ability to fight that off instead of trusting an American-made vaccine that has proven overwhelmingly statistically that it’s saving lives,” he said.

The state’s public health emergency has been extended by Holcomb, and he said he will continue to work with the state legislature on three concerns he wants addressed before ending it: enhanced federal funding for Medicaid, enhanced SNAP food benefits and allowing Box to serve as a statewide ordering physician for the vaccinated to include children that are ages five and older.

One of the most challenging issues when recovering from the pandemic, Holcomb said, is dealing with misinformation about COVID-19 and Hoosiers can trust the state’s coronavirus data.

“We feel that the more you know the better off we all are,” Holcomb said. “Folks should have a high level of confidence that the data the state puts out is accurate.”

Box said the state’s hospital COVID-19 hospital census is the highest its been in this year and every county in Indiana is at an orange or red warning level for COVID-19.

“Unfortunately COVID-19 has determined to keep us on our toes and we once again are facing a very bleak situation with this pandemic,” she said.

The state’s health commissioner also said Indiana and the United States are facing a national rapid COVID-19 test shortage, with only about 11,000 being brought into the state on a given week.

These tests are typically provided to health departments, schools, long term care facilities, jails and mobile state health department sites.

In the next several weeks, Box said she expects to see a steep rise in cases and that omicron variant cases are doubling in large cities every two to three days.

The Indiana State Department of Health announced Tuesday that 8,633 Jackson County residents have tested positive for COVID-19, an increase of 74 from Monday’s total.

The positivity rate for Jackson County is at 18.6%, a 1.8% increase from Monday’s 16.8%, according to the department’s COVID-19 dashboard.

The rate is determined by a seven-day moving average with a six-day lag to give time to receive comprehensive results. The current positivity rate for the county would be for Dec. 16 to 22.

Jackson County is currently classified as a level 3 county and a red level threat.

No deaths attributed to COVID-19 were reported in Jackson County on Tuesday, leaving the county’s death toll at 98.

There have been 96,320 COVID tests administered to 27,881 individuals in the county since March 18, 2020, an increase of 332 from Monday’s total.

The latest results are as of 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. The coronavirus dashboard is updated at 5 p.m. daily.

Also Tuesday, the state’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard reported 21,303 or 45.8% of 46,428 Jackson County residents have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 22,004 or 47.3% of county residents have been fully vaccinated.

Since Dec. 14, 3,617,866 Hoosiers have received their first dose, while 3,549,956 are fully vaccinated.

On Tuesday, 7,967 additional Hoosiers across the state were diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at the ISDH, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories.

This brings the total number of Hoosiers known to have had the novel coronavirus to 1,234,919 following corrections to the previous day’s total.

The state’s total number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 is 18,338 with 58 new deaths reported Tuesday.

For the state, a total of 16,585,780 tests have been administered, an increase of 41,445 from Monday.

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