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Marion County public health director discusses latest on COVID-19, omicron

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Posted at 9:34 PM, Dec 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-22 21:34:43-05

INDIANAPOLIS — One local health department leader said they are urging people hosting holiday gatherings to be bold and outright ask about vaccination status.

Dr. Virginia Caine, the director of the Marion County Public Health Department, said these are steps we need to take to keep the delta and omicron variants of COVID-19 from spreading so quickly.

Marion County and much of the state is seeing a surge in positive COVID-19 cases.

Caine said the omicron variant is now in Indiana and a very contagious version of COVID-19.

Based on calculations of the spread, Caine thinks omicron will be the dominant variant in January in the state.

If you haven't been vaccinated yet or due for a booster, Caine said now is the time.

As people get ready to gather for the holidays, Caine said it is time to have a serious conversation with the guests you are inviting into your home.

"And, I'm not bashful with my friends or whatever," Caine said. "I want to know if you're vaccinated before you come into my household. So if you're not vaccinated before coming to my household, I need to figure out a way of how you're going to get tested and I know you're negative so that you're not leaving any infected respiratory droplets within my household."

Caine said Marion County is seeing a surge of positive delta variant COVID-19 cases. Adults between the ages of 18 and 44 are accounting for most of these new cases and most are unvaccinated, Caine said.

This is concerning, Caine said, because carriers of the virus can put those with compromised immune systems and health issues at a greater risk.

"So a lot of these individuals we suspect, they can become infected," Caine said. "They look healthy. They feel healthy. So they really don't feel the need to get vaccinated at that age group. And I think that's what's creating a problem."

The Marion County Public Health Department is focusing on the areas where they are seeing higher numbers of positive cases, Caine said.

In those areas, they are offering vaccine clinics and resources in those areas.

Some of those areas include Garfield Park, Sherman Drive, the Martindale-Brightwood neighborhood and the downtown transit center.