INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.
Here’s a look:
Record hospitalizations. Indiana hospitals are seeing the highest number of COVID-19 patients since the pandemic. For the third day in a row, the state set a record for COVID-19 hospitalizations. It reported 1,948 Hoosiers in the hospital with COVID-19 as of Wednesday.
In mid-April, Indiana hit a peak for COVID-19 hospitalizations with 1,799 patients and the state recorded its highest weekly averages for COVID-19 deaths during the weeks after.
Despite similar hospitalizations in the fall compared to the spring, the number of deaths does not seem as high right now. However, the Regenstrief Institute warns data on COVID-19 deaths lags behind hospitalizations by a couple of weeks.
“We are worried it is going up and so we likely have not seen the highest number of deaths yet until we get further into November,” said Brian Dixon, Director of public health informatics at Regenstrief Institute.
The 7-day moving average for COVID-19 deaths in Indiana is just slightly under the peak set in late-April. Dixon said all signs are the state is going to see more deaths in the coming weeks.
“The death rate has been rising over the last several weeks. So, we haven’t hit the peak. Even though the deaths are a little bit lower than where they were in late April, that was a continuation of deaths that began in March,” Dixon explained.
On April 23, 1,515 patients were in Indiana hospitals for COVID-19 and the state recorded 38 deaths that day. Six months later, on October 21, the same number of people were in the hospital, but 29 deaths were recorded. The 7-day moving average for COVID-19 deaths was also lower that week in October than that week in April.
The lower numbers could be attributed to the lag in data on deaths, but it may also suggest our hospitals are more prepared to treat patients.
Hamilton County spike. After seeing lower COVID-19 positivity rates in September, the Hamilton County Health Department is now seeing a spike in positive cases.
The County Health Department has yet to pinpoint why, but they are working with state officials on contact tracing.
“Some is attributed to the colder weather with people moving indoors, some of it is the COVID fatigue,” said Hamilton County Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Christian Walker. “I understand [COVID fatigue] is a very real thing having to deal with this for eight months now. We got to maintain that social distancing, got to wear our masks.”
By working with the state on contact tracing, the county health department is hoping they can spot any sources or trends. It will allow them to educate the community. During stage 4.5 of the state’s economic reopen, Hamilton County saw positivity rates down to 4.5%. That number is now in the double digits.
“It really started the beginning of October, and it’s ramped up really within the last ten days to two weeks or so,” details Walker. “Our goal is to find actionable items and actual achievable goals that safeguard the community, but keep our economy going.”
The rise has local businesses watching closely. Some restaurants and bars say they have seen business return somewhat back to normal, and they want it to stay that way while maintaining safety.
“It’s always scary for us, especially new owners,” says Abanob Boles, owner of Little Cairo in downtown Carmel.
Boles’ restaurant opened just a few months before the pandemic hit, and in a month, they will open another location in Broad Ripple. His family came to Indiana from Egypt and started their Mediterranean restaurant to bring their food and culture to Hoosiers.
In the first months, they were very successful before having to shut down for a month due to the pandemic. They were able to survive on delivery only and have been seeing customers return.
Health officials say any further restrictions would only come after a discussion between the health department and local law makers.
Colts in NFL protocol. An Indianapolis Colts staff member tested positive for the coronavirus, the team revealed Thursday.
The team is in the process of contact tracing and has entered the NFL’s intensive COVID-19 protocol. The individual has self-quarantined and is under the care of team doctors.
A few Colts players were considered COVID-19 close contacts, although they weren’t characterized as high risk.
If the players continue to test negative, they’ll be able to return to the team’s facility and practice on Friday.
The team held a walkthrough Thursday but held meetings virtually.
The Baltimore Ravens, this week’s opponent, placed eight players on its COVID-19 reserve list.
China ban. China has temporarily banned the entry of foreigners from at least eight countries as COVID-19 cases rise in Europe and elsewhere.
Non-Chinese can no longer enter from Russia, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Philippines, India and Bangladesh, even if they hold a valid visa or residence permit for China.
Embassies in those countries have posted online notices in recent days announcing the temporary suspension of entry.
China has enacted strict measures to guard against new infections from abroad.
Health authorities on Friday reported 30 imported cases in the most recent 24-hour period, including 15 in Shanghai. That brought the total number of imported cases during the pandemic to 3,510.