TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - State health officials say Indiana is experiencing exponential growth when it comes to COVID-19, and they don’t expect it to turn around quickly.
“COVID-19 can strike anyone, anywhere, and at any time,” Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said, “We are seeing that with increasing frequency in Indiana and across the country.”
Clay and Sullivan Counties are now at “red” status on Indiana’s COVID-19 metrics map. The rest of the Wabash Valley is orange—the second-highest level. As we’ve explained before, the colors are tied to certain guidelines. Dr. Box says this is just one sign that we need to use extra caution as we head into Thanksgiving.
Dr. Box says health officials have been working tirelessly to try and prevent the surge in COVID-19 cases that Indiana is currently experiencing.
On Indiana’s county metric map for COVID-19, 21 counties are red, 72 counties are orange, and just one county is yellow. Remember, these colors are determined by two metrics: The number of cases per 100,000 residents and seven-day positivity rates.
Dr. Box says this map is already alarming as it stands, but if you only measure each county by the number of cases per 100,000 residents, then every single county in the state would be red.
“I can tell you that we are on an exponential growth curve right now and we do not expect this to turn around quickly. In the next several weeks we will continue to see cases climb, individuals hospitalized, and unfortunately more deaths,” Dr. Box explained, “That’s why we plea now to the general public to do those basic, simple precautionary measures that may seem small and very irritating to you, but could make a tremendous difference.”
Dr. Box says every metric is at or around an all-time high right now compared to when the pandemic started. They are also seeing 18-30-year-olds become infected with the virus with higher frequency. Because of that, Dr. Box shared this advice to those heading home for Thanksgiving.
“Behave as if you have COVID-19 or as if you have been exposed. When you get home, plan to spend those 14 days in quarantine even in your own home. Wear a mask in your own home. Don’t see your grandma or other elderly relatives until you complete that 14 day period without any symptoms,” Dr. Box concluded, “Lastly, please don’t head out to the bars or hangout with all the friends who you haven’t seen for months. You need to keep those social bubbles small.”
Dr. Box says these sacrifices during the holidays will save lives here in Indiana.
The state’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver also gave an update on COVID-19 vaccines on Wednesday. She says Pfizer is reporting its COVID-19 vaccine is about 95% effective in the final results. Health officials are also hearing similar results from trials of a vaccine by Moderna. Dr. Weaver says that they expect Pfizer’s vaccine to be the first that Indiana receives.
Pfizer announced on Wednesday that it plans to seek FDA authorization for the vaccine. After that, the FDA will have an outside committee review the findings from the final trial. If the review is favorable, the FDA can grant emergency use authorization that will allow the vaccine to be shipped to the states.
Dr. Weaver says the process is not being rushed, and that no vaccine will be distributed to Hoosiers until it is deemed safe by federal regulators and an Indiana review committee.
“We know that large percentages of people are hesitant to get the vaccine,” Dr. Weaver said, “This is in part because they feel that it has been developed quickly. However, I want to remind Hoosiers of what Dr. Box said last week. This vaccine has not been rushed. It has been developed off of work that has been ongoing for a decade.”
Governor Holcomb says we are still a few months away from widespread distribution of a COVID-198 vaccine. He says that in the meantime, we must do better as a state to mitigate the spread of the virus, especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up.