Indiana sets new record for COVID-19 hospitalizations – IndyStar

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COVID-19 update: Cases on the rise, hospitals feeling the burden

With COVID-19 cases in the rise in Indiana, hospitals and healthcare workers are feeling the burden.

Rashika Jaipuriar, Indianapolis Star

More people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Indiana than at any other point in the pandemic, the Indiana Department of Health reported Tuesday.

As of Monday night at midnight, 3,467 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state. That’s seven more people than the previous record of 3,460 set at the end of November 2020.

On the heels of the omicron variant, the state has seen its COVID-19 cases soar. Tuesday, the state reported 11,932 new cases.

While that is less than the new record of more than 15,000 reported last week, Mondays typically do not see as many cases confirmed as later in the week. Last Tuesday, for instance, the state saw just over 8,400 new cases confirmed.

Some have downplayed the potential impact of the omicron variant, noting that in many cases infected experience only bad cold or even milder symptoms.

However, that appears to be the case for vaccinated people. Omicron is more of a risk for the unvaccinated.

More: How dominant is omicron in Indiana? Here’s what we know.

This latest COVID-19 surge comes at what is usually hospitals’ busiest season.

The addition of coronavirus has filled the state’s hospitals, which have been running above capacity for weeks, translating into the highest number of patients on record, according to the Indiana Hospital Association.

The surge in current COVID-19 patients combined with non-COVID patients who delayed treatment earlier in the pandemic seeking care has led to “a state of crisis” for the state’s hospitals, hospital association president Brian Tabor said.

About 11,500 people are hospitalized in Indiana right now. In recent days that number has swung closer to 12,000. Pre-pandemic, hospitals had about 10,000 in-patients a day. Currently hospital emergency departments are handling between 8,500 and 10,000 visits a day.

If something does not change soon, Tabor predicted, the system could break down.

“The system was just not designed for this,” he said. “It’s like an engine that’s not built to run at an extremely high speed for a long period of time without being taken offline for maintenance…. The health care system is not able to absorb that level of strain for a long period of time, especially not at reduced staffing levels.”

Just over 10% of the state’s intensive care unit beds are available, according to the state dashboard. In the central Indiana region, however, only 6% of intensive care unit beds are available and just over 54% of ventilators.

That region had more than 1,200 people hospitalized with COVID-19, far more than the previous record of 1,026 set in December 2020.

While the average number of daily deaths is now surpassing the number seen during the fall delta surge, deaths are not approaching the peaks seen in the 2020 fall surge. As of a week ago, to allow for reporting delays, the state was seeing a seven-day daily death average of 51 deaths.

More: Indiana limits COVID-19 rapid testing due to shortage

Hospitalizations typically rise about two weeks after a rise in cases and a rise in deaths typically follows two weeks after that. Last week the state set two new records for new cases.

Some hospitals are already bracing to see additional deaths. Eskenazi Health, for instance, recently ordered a refrigerated truck to serve as overflow capacity for the morgue, which can hold 14 bodies. The truck has room for six. Earlier in the week the truck held two bodies, said Eskenazi spokesman Todd Harper in an email.

Contact IndyStar reporter Shari Rudavsky at shari.rudavsky@indystar.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter: @srudavsky.

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