As cases of COVID-19 surge in the Hoosier State, the Indiana State Department of Health is continuing to urge mask wearing and vaccinations, particularly in light of new CDC recommendations. Additionally, Governor Eric Holcomb tells Inside INdiana Business there are no current plans to reinstate a mask mandate.
“We are leaning toward more of the smart recommendations that we think people ought to, number one, take responsibility for,” Holcomb said. “While we’ve had about 50% of Hoosiers get vaccinated, we know that’s the sure way to stay out of the hospital and maintain your life and not spread to the extent that we’ve seen in the past. But this has been a rollercoaster over the last 16 months.”
During a news conference this afternoon, ISDH Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said a year ago, the state reported 900 cases per day. This week, the number is more than 900 per day. Also, the state’s positivity rate is currently 6.8%, up from just over 2% in late June, and the number of new cases per week has increased as well.
Box cited the new CDC recommendations that everyone age 2 and older wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas with substantial or high transmission of COVID-19, even if they’re fully vaccinated and the ISDH is “strongly urging” Hoosiers to follow the guidance.
“I know many Hoosiers have different beliefs about masks, the vaccine and the pandemic as a whole,” said Box. “What I hope is that we all share a personal responsibility to do no harm to others. Unless we increase our vaccination rates and unless we use every tool available to us to stop the spread of disease, this virus will continue to have the advantage. It will continue to mutate and we will constantly be playing whack-a-mole for the foreseeable future.”
ISDH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver says the rate of vaccinations is increasing, though at a slower pace. Nearly half of eligible Hoosiers have still not received a vaccine and they are hearing concerns about breakthrough cases with people questioning the effectiveness of the vaccine.
“I want to stress that breakthrough infections for vaccinated people are still very low and tend to be mild, but we are finding they are more likely with the Delta variant than they are with any of the other strains that we have seen,” said Weaver. “No vaccine is 100%. We hear every year from people who have received the flu vaccine, but still get the flu. But vaccines do prevent many cases of illness and are especially effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths.”
Weaver says 98% of new COVID cases are occurring in people who are not vaccinated and 96% of deaths have occurred in unvaccinated people. The state has seen 3,710 breakthrough cases among more than 2.9 million vaccinated Hoosiers with 161 hospitalizations and 56 deaths.
In an interview for an upcoming episode of the Business & Beyond Podcast with Gerry Dick, Governor Holcomb said the state is at a point where it is managing its way through the pandemic.
“There are some casualties for sure, but we’re at a place unlike before in early March of 2020 when we were all dealing with something on a scale which we’d never seen before in our lifetimes,” said Holcomb. “But we’ve proven now that we have a vaccine as well, now that we are organized, now that we have stockpiles unlike prior, we’ve proven that we can safely manage our way through this. And that’s not being cavalier whatsoever…but right now I foresee us carrying on with the plan of the day.”
You can watch the full news conference below, courtesy of our partners at WISH-TV: