IN Focus: Former health commissioner on impact of Omicron variant, rising COVID numbers

Politics

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana is combatting a rise in COVID cases amid fears of the new Omicron variant. Former State Health Commissioner Dr. Richard Feldman recently spoke to IN Focus to talk about the troubling numbers ahead of the busy holiday season.

As lawmakers look to end the COVID-19 public emergency here in Indiana, Dr. Feldman expressed concern that they are not taking the full picture into account. With cases skyrocketing across the country, Dr. Feldman pointed out that the pandemic isn’t over. He wants Hoosiers to prepare for another surge in infections, hospitalizations, and deaths as more people stay inside and the cold winter months begin.

“Most people are not taking this seriously,” Dr. Feldman said. “They’re not wearing masks, they’re not doing any mitigation, [the pandemic] is over for them.”

Dr. Feldman thinks this is “just another horrible message” being sent by Indiana lawmakers. As they debate ending public health orders in the state, Dr. Feldman thinks the numbers speak for themselves.

As cases continue to climb, he thinks the legislature should be doing more to slow the spread and prevent another wave of infections. Dr. Feldman is disappointed in what he views as a “purely political process.”

“They even admit at the Statehouse that it’s symbolic… of fighting government overreach,” Dr. Feldman said. “I think it’s just really, very unfortunate.”

Calling the Omicron variant “very worrisome,” Dr. Feldman wants the state to take this next part of the pandemic more seriously. He wants to see vaccinations as more of a priority in the state with the implementation of mandates and incentives.

“It is a public health move that is very very necessary, because I don’t think we’re going to get to herd immunity without, at least, employer mandates,” Dr. Feldman said. “It disturbs me that the legislature wants to interfere with the operations of private businesses.”

Watch more of Dr. Richard Feldman’s interview with IN Focus in the video below.

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