January COVID-19 trends in Indiana improve, numbers still relatively high

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.––COVID-19 trends continue to go down in Indiana this month. The 7-day positivity rate in the state is now below 10%, and more importantly, fewer Hoosiers are dying every day compared to December.

December was the deadliest month for COVID-19 in Indiana. After a tough few weeks, the trends are now going in the right direction for now.

“Yes, way down from last month but still high,” said Dr. Paul Calkins, Associate Chief Medical Executive at IU Health. “I hope we keep going down.”

As of Monday, 1,976 patients were in the hospital for COVID-19 in Indiana. Hospitalizations have not been this low since early November. It’s still pretty high though, compared to previous months.

COVID-19 hospitalizations began to pick up in late September. On Labor Day, there were 839 COVID-19 patients in Indiana hospitals.

In January, fewer Hoosiers are dying of COVID-19 every day compared to December. But again, the number is still much higher than early September.

On Labor Day, the state saw an average of nine COVID-19 deaths. On January 20, the 7-day average was 48 deaths. It is an improvement from January 1 when Indiana recorded an average of 75 COVID-19 deaths at that time.

“It’s such a burden lifted off of our people and our organizations,” said Dr. Calkins.

Starting January 10, the average number of daily COVID-19 cases began to decline. The Regenstrief Institute would not be surprised if COVID-19 cases go back up again.

“This is the time of year when we tend to see those viral illnesses begin to increase,” said Shaun Grannis, VP for Data and Analytics at the Regenstrief Institute.

“It is the coldest part of the year. People tend to congregate indoors, predominately during this time. That is where spread can occur,” he said.

Grannis is not sure if vaccinations are playing a big role in the decline in COVID-19 cases.

“It’s hard to say precisely why we are seeing it go down given that other respiratory viral illnesses are going up,” he said.

Dr. Calkins at IU Health says the vaccine is making an impact on their staffing levels. Many health care workers are receiving their second dose of COVID-19 vaccine right now.

The hospital network has been tracking the number of team members who are in quarantine or who have tested positive for COVID-19. Dr. Calkins said those numbers have fallen by half since mid-December

“That is true obvious evidence that the vaccines are having an effect,” Dr. Calkins said, “because we were not just dealing with a large number of COVID-19 patients. We also had a thousand people on quarantine every day.”

Health officials are still urging Hoosiers to remain vigilant, especially as states, including Indiana, report cases of COVID-19 variants.

“That’s just another reason to recognize that we need to get this vaccine rolled out as quickly,” said Dr. Calkins.

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