COVID-19 Hospitalizations Reach New High As Cases Continue To Climb
By Taylor Wooten
INDIANAPOLIS — The state is seeing alarming numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations just a week from Thanksgiving, and health officials are warning against travel and large gatherings.
There were 7,420 newly reported COVID-19 cases Thursday, along with 59 new deaths and 3,063 hospitalizations. There have been 275,503 cases in the state and 4,889 Hoosiers have died since the onset of the pandemic.
The state has set a new record for hospitalizations in 15 of the last 17 days.
Dennis Murphy, president of Indiana University Health, said changes need to be made to how Thanksgiving is celebrated.
“While it’s unfortunate, we cannot let our guard down based on the previous tradition,” Murphy said in a press release. “However, it’s still possible to partake in holiday celebrations just as long as everyone is exercising the appropriate behaviors.”
The release includes a link to a video with recommendations on safety during the holiday by Dr. Mark Luetkemeyer, chief medical officer for Indiana University Health, who appeared at Gov. Eric Holcomb’s weekly COVID-19 press conference Wednesday.
Luetkemeyer recommends families have conversations about their values and the risks that come with family gatherings. If families do decide to gather, Luetkemeyer said they should socially distance, wear masks and avoid sharing plates or utensils.
Dr. Kristina Box advised families to celebrate safely using CDC guidance, with the safest option being to limit activities to those in your household.
“To be frank, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others,” Box said. “You can still celebrate by having a small dinner with your immediate family. For the first time, there’ll only be five at my dining room table.”
The state also has also released Thanksgiving guidance, ranking activities from low to high risk.
Though the Indiana State Department of Health reports that 21% of intensive care unit beds and 73% of ventilators are still available, firsthand accounts from healthcare workers at Holcomb’s Wednesday conference told a more concerning story involving staffing challenges.
Dr. Eric Fish of Schneck Medical Center in Seymour said that a lot of staff at the rural hospital have chosen to go into outpatient care or leave the profession completely because of the strain of COVID-19. The hospital is also experiencing shortages of personal protective equipment and medications.
Fish said that workers in various departments usually not caring for patients — such as regulatory compliance, risk and safety, and information technology — have been deployed to work on the front lines of the hospital. The demand for patient care still outweighs the capacity of the staff at Schneck Medical Center, he added.
FOOTNOTE: Taylor Wooten is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.