Indiana COVID response ‘moving in the right direction’ despite bad weather

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INDIANAPOLIS––Governor Holcomb and state health officials said Indiana is moving in the right direction when it comes to COVID-19, but challenges still lie ahead.

The first piece of positive news from the governor was the announcement that more PPE has gone out to schools and critical business as Holcomb alluded to last week.

He said more than 140,000 masks have been shipped to 160 schools to date, and added that Indiana is catching up because of challenges due to the recent bad weather.

Holcomb mentioned that a PPE request portal was set up for critical businesses on February 3rd, and around 190 businesses benefited from the latest round of shipments.

“We want to make sure that folks have what they need … everything we can to continue to slow this,” Holcomb said. 

He added a special thanks to Indiana’s vaccine network who handled more than 40,000 rescheduled appointments. Holcomb said Dr. Lindsay Weaver and her whole team were able to pivot and lessen the anxiety of people had previously been scheduled.

Holcomb explained he had been on a conference call with the National Governors Association (NGA) and the White House who informed states of a small increase of doses going forward. 

According to Holcomb, some of these doses will go to community health clinics in a federal network, and not part of individual state programs. Holcomb said governors on both sides of the aisle are concerned and are raising questions.

He said states want more vaccines, but want to be able to provide answers to residents as to who gets them. Holcomb said, “We are working to maintain the integrity of our system … wanting to make sure we are all on the same page.”

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box reported the state’s current coronavirus numbers according to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH).

The state reported 933 more positive coronavirus cases and announced 20 additional confirmed COVID-19 deaths Wednesday. The latest ISDH dashboard data indicates the state’s 7-day all-test positivity rate of 5%, with a cumulative rate of 10.2% positive.

Dr. Box cited another week of significant improvement in positivity since last week. Hospitalizations are at 100 daily admissions, she said, when they were at 500 in late November and early December. 

“Our county maps are the best they have looked in months,” she added. As of the February 15 update, the ISDH County Metric map shows 11 Blue, 73 in Yellow and 8 in Orange. 

“We continue to move in the right direction,” said Dr. Box, but added, “but please continue to wear masks, socially distance and get tested.”

Dr. Box said there are 660 deaths that will be added to the long-term care (LTC)  facility portal. According to Dr. Box, they were already reported in the statewide death totals, but are now correctly matched to the LTC facility data.

Dr. Weaver’s update included that recent bad weather closed clinics, forced rescheduling of appointments and delayed shipments of vaccines. 

Dr. Weaver shared a graphic on Indiana’s vaccination rates:

Indiana has received more than 1.3 million doses of vaccine. Dr. Weaver explained that 172 vials have gone unused due to broken vials, unbroken syringes or unaccounted for.

Hoosiers aged 60 and over are next in line to get vaccinated once the state gets more supply, said Dr. Weaver. Indiana will continue to follow an age-based approach and will drop that floor to 50 or older, but that will take a large influx of vaccine doses which are not yet available.

To find testing sites around the state, visit Coronavirus.In.Gov and click on the COVID-19 testing information link.

Hoosiers aged 65 and older, along with healthcare workers, long-term care residents and first responders, are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Visit OurShot.In.Gov or call 211 to schedule the required appointment.

As of Wednesday, 834,478 Hoosiers have received a first dose of vaccine and 356,204 are fully vaccinated.

The state announced a new rental assistance program coming soon for Hoosiers. The program will open once new guidance from U.S. Department of Treasury is received. Here are some details:

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