INDIANAPOLIS (WLS) — Indiana reported 5,853 new COVID-19 cases and 98 related deaths Wednesday.
“When you talk about counties being red, the state of Indiana is on fire,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said during his COVID-19 briefing Wednesday.
The Indiana State Department of Health confirmed a total of 398,417 positive coronavirus cases in the state, including 6,207 deaths.
In the last 24 hours, officials have conducted 50,445 tests, with a seven-day test positivity rate of 14.2%.
“We do not have a single county below 200 cases per 100,000 residents, and we haven’t had one for four weeks,” Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said.
Lake County is among the worst of them. The streets of Whiting were mostly empty Wednesday night. Given the rate COVID-19 is raging through the area, there is good reason for sparsely-populated sidewalks.
“You still have people going around refusing to wear masks and you still have people going around that really don’t care,” Whiting resident Santiago Nieto said.
“I think this was expected, with the weather getting cold, kids going back to school and family parties with Thanksgiving,” said Stephanie Duray, another Whiting resident.
That’s exactly what health experts are trying to prevent. New regulations announced today to try and stop the spread will require hospitals to postpone non-emergency surgeries until at least January to preserve hospital beds. School activities will also be limited to just participants, staff and parents, and in places like Lake County, social gatherings will be limited to 25 people.
Restaurants are also regulated to 50% capacity inside. The owner of Bulldog Brewing Co. said Lake County health inspectors showed up on Wednesday to check that COVID precautions were being followed.
“I want to play by the rules,” owner Kevin Clark said. “I want to follow everything. I want to make sure everyone is safe. If you’re going to have a garage party at home, those are the guys it really needs to hit home, and they need to stop.”
“As long as people are out doing whatever they feel like they want to do, it’s not going to go away,” Whiting resident Savanna Rodriguez said.
Health experts hope these stricter rules will finally get through to increasingly infected counties.
Indiana healthcare workers first up for COVID-19 vaccine
As Indiana announces its preparations to begin coronavirus vaccinations for some 400,000 healthcare workers by the end of the month, the inoculation timeline for the state’s nursing home residents is still to be determined.
Chief medical officer for the Indiana State Department of Health Dr. Lindsay Weaver said during a webinar meeting Friday that anyone who provides care to patients or is exposed to infectious materials will be the first in the state to be offered the vaccine.
But while healthcare workers within longterm care facilities are included in the earliest criteria, Weaver said the availability of the vaccine for residents of those facilities “will depend on what we have available.”
Nurses wanted: Swamped hospitals scramble for pandemic help
U.S. hospitals slammed with COVID-19 patients are trying to lure nurses and doctors out of retirement, recruiting students and new graduates who have yet to earn their licenses and offering eye-popping salaries in a desperate effort to ease staffing shortages.
The number of U.S. patients in the hospital with the virus has more than doubled over the past month to a record high of nearly 100,000, pushing medical centers and health care workers to the breaking point.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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