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Indiana leaders announce plan to address expected COVID-19 surge

Governor Eric Holcomb.JPG
Posted at 10:58 PM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 23:24:46-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The projected peak of novel coronavirus cases in Indiana is still weeks away. On Monday, Gov. Eric Holcomb addressed how the state's hospitals will handle the surge.

"As I have said all along our positive cases and sadly fatalities continue to increase and we anticipate they will over the course of time," Holcomb said Monday during a briefing on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an effort to fight back, the governor has signed an executive order allowing retired medical professionals, certain medical students and recent graduates to practice medicine and treat coronavirus patients.

"As of this morning we have received over 5,300 clinicians who have volunteered, stepped up and stepped forward to provide what we expect will be much needed relief, " Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer at the Indiana State Department of Health, said.

The governor's executive order also increases workspaces and resources. By Monday, Indiana will have nearly 2,000 critical care beds. The state's goal is to double that number if needed by converting every recovery, operating and outpatient room to a place to care for coronavirus patients. The state will make that possible by canceling all elective surgeries and if all those resources are gone the state has a backup plan.

"As needed our State Health Commissioner will direct that recently closed facilities such as a hospital in Michigan City and a hospital in St. Joseph County be reopened," Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, Indiana Family and Social Services Secretary, said. "And the state will use new rehabilitation facilities in places like Clark County and St. Joseph County to serve as step-down beds for non-critical patients."

Indiana hospitals have counted 1,177 ventilators as of March 1. They say another 750 could also be brought in if needed. The governor said we have come to a point where we must be prepared for what's coming.

"I am pleading on a daily basis that this is not a game, this is serious," Holcomb said. "You may feel like your are Superman but I guarantee you you're not."