INDIANAPOLIS — As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, business owners are watching the numbers closely and hoping it doesn't force them to change how they're operating and potentially lose customers.
Jeff Roberts, co-owner of English Ivy's, is in that situation.
"We're scared right now because we don't know if we're going to have shut down or anything like that," Roberts said.
Besides being closed at the beginning of the pandemic, Roberts said the establishment has been able to keep its doors open thanks to the responsibility of their staff.
"Staff contacts us and they tell us if they feel ill," Robert said. "We tell them stay home. We don't want you here if you're not feeling well."
Health experts have been sounding the alarm about this latest surge.
"There's some very clear evidence that omicron appears to have a higher transmissibility," Dr. Shaun Grannis with the Regenstrief Institute said.
Higher transmissibility means people can catch this strain of the virus easier. The evidence he points to comes from South Africa and the United Kingdom, which discovered the omicron variant earlier than the U.S.
The Indiana Department of Health has not updated their dashboard showing variants in our state since December. WRTV asked when to expect another update. They have not gotten back to us yet.
"Indiana was one of the last five states to report their first omicron. That might mean we're at the trailing edge, perhaps omicron is not fully here yet," Grannis said. "We won't know until the state provides us with additional numbers."
Regardless the strain of COVID causing cases to increase, IU Health, like many hospital systems, says they're stretched to their limits, anticipating things to get worse. They believe it's going to impact their workers.
"As omicron spreads across the general public, you have more and more of our team members who are out and sick and out and exposed and that obviously strains us that much more," said Dr. Christopher Weaver, senior vice president of clinical effectiveness for IU Health.
Knowing how contagious omicron appears to be, Roberts is hopeful his customers are doing everything they can to keep the spread of the virus down so English Ivy's can stay open.
"It's our livelihood," Roberts said. "We have to stay open. If not, we'll lose the business and people will lose their jobs. It's pretty frightening to us."