The Journal Gazette
Thursday, August 19, 2021 1:00 am

State looks at more testing as cases surge

County reports 262 cases, 4 deaths

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana's surge of COVID-19 cases is resulting in more deaths and fewer available ICU beds.

Gov. Eric Holcomb also said Wednesday new testing options will be announced soon as the system is taxed with increased demand.

Allen County added four deaths Wednesday. That is 11 so far this month. There were 26 county deaths the last three months collectively.

Allen County also reported 262 new cases. Statewide, there were 3,558 new cases and 25 new deaths.

New county metrics released Wednesday show all northeast counties except LaGrange in the orange advisory level – the second highest category of community spread.

The state also reached 1,616 COVID-19 hospitalizations – about a third of the state's peak last year. Intensive care beds are filling up with the most since January. The northeast Indiana district has only 44 ICU beds left.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said staffing is even more of a problem than beds as some health care professionals have moved on.

She also noted a huge influx of cases in kids, which rose from 1,500 on July 25 to 4,200 on Aug. 8.

Micah Pollak, an Indiana University Northwest professor tracking COVID statistics, said since July 1, one in every 38 pediatric cases has required hospitalization. That is up from one in every 51 over the same period in 2020.

Holcomb and Box continued to focus strongly on vaccinations being the answer – noting that about 98% of hospitalizations are for unvaccinated Hoosiers.

“We know what works and that's the vaccine,” he said. “It's not just what we can do, it's what you can do to solve the problem. We need you do the right thing, and that's get vaccinated.”

The delta variant surge also has led to challenges in finding testing after the state shuttered its testing facilities at the end of June.

Holcomb said an announcement will come soon on increasing testing in high-need areas, noting some people are waiting two or three hours to get in for a test.

Some Hoosiers are getting tested due to symptoms. But testing now is also being used proactively – to get students back in school or for work and travel purposes.

While testing has grown, cases have gone up at a much faster rate.

Box said one change will be sending Indiana National Guard personnel back to local health departments to provide staffing for testing. And there will be a specific effort to do more testing directly in schools.

“I really apologize for the waits. I know it's frustrating,” she said.

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