INDIANAPOLIS — According to the Indiana State Department of Health, statewide hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients have increased. In 10 days the number of patients hospitalized with the virus went from 754 to 975.
Some healthcare workers are concerned with the increase. State leaders say they are aware of the change and are in touch with hospital leadership.
Doctor Graham Carlos, M.D., MSCR, is a Pulmonary and Critical Care doctor at Eskenazi Health. He says they had a big slow down in cases over the summer, but now there are more COVID patients coming in. “In the last few weeks we are starting to see increases in the hospital both in regular hospitalized patients needing extra oxygen, also patients who are critically ill in the ICU,” said Carlos.
Carlos believes there are several factors leading to the upward trend, “For starters we’ve been opening things up more and more. People are getting more comfortable and going to places where other people are. The schools reopened and we’ve seen cases in schools, colleges and universities.”
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says they are aware of increases in specific areas in the state and they are checking on those hospitals to ensure supplies and other needs are met.
“It’s something that we’ve noticed and are already addressing,” said Box.
As of now, there are not any hospitals in Indiana that need state assistance. Dr. Box and Governor Holcomb say the increase in hospitalizations of COVID patients is not due to Indiana entering Stage Five of the reopening plan. During Wednesday’s press conference they noted that the people who are hospitalized today or counted as positive cases, likely contracted the virus two weeks ago, back when the state was still in stage 4.5.
Dr. Carlos says he knows that state leaders are dealing with a very big challenge, “I think the state is doing the best they can to balance the need to open us back up to preserve jobs and get people back to work while at the same time wanting to be safe and prevent infections and that’s a really hard balance to strike.”
Another number that has increased is the spread rate. This number represents for every one person that is effected by the virus, how many people they can infect. That number has gone from 0.94 to 1.1.
Governor Holcomb says this just shows we need to be cautious as we continue into this stage.
“It just shows the volatility of the spread rate and what we need to do to be extra vigilant but it doesn’t mean we go back to 4.5 or 4 it means we need to hunker down in areas where we see spread and that’s what we’re doing,” said Holcomb.
Not all hospitals in Indiana are experiencing a spike in patients. David Charles, who is an ICU nurse with Franciscan Health, says they have not seen any upward trend in patients.
“No increase recently in the past few weeks, it’s still tapering down and staying at a fairly low level compared to the peak. We have a 30 bed adult ICU and usually we have maybe five or six COVID's as opposed to the peak, we were full back in April and May,” said Charles.
Healthcare workers say they are hopeful that any increase happening right now is not a sign of a surge, but if it is, they are far more prepared than they were in the spring.
“If we do hit another surge, God forbid that should happen, we’re ready for it here. Because the first time it was a steep learning curve. We weren’t ready for it but we adapted very quickly and we did a great job dealing with it. So we’re ready if it comes, we’re ready for it,” said Charles.
“I think everyone is kind of holding their breath right now and hoping that Hoosiers comply with masks and distancing so that it doesn’t get as bad as it was,” said Carlos.