INDIANAPOLIS – For the first time in 2022, monthly statewide cases of COVID-19 increased in the month of April.
According to preliminary data on the Indiana State Department of Health website, there were 9,487 statewide cases of coronavirus reported in April. That is a slight increase from March when 7,471 cases were reported, but still a dramatic drop from the 355,714 reported in January, and 40,772 cases recorded in February.
The ISDH dashboard shows the current seven-day statewide case count is 560 cases, an increase of 140 over the previous 7-day period.
“Definitely an increase,” said Melissa McMasters, administrator of the immunization and infectious disease program at the Marion County Public Health Department. “Nothing like we’ve seen before, but again, something we’re going to keep our eye on.”
“If you look at Marion County, our cases we have today, we have around 50,” McMasters said. “At the beginning of April, we were looking more in the 20 range.”
“Still looks pretty good, if you ask me all things considered,” said I.U. Health’s Director of Infection and Prevention, Kristen Kelley. “We are cautiously optimistic, but our covid case counts are about 90 percent lower compared to where we were in the winter.”
While health experts are always keeping an eye on total case counts, health department and hospital representatives told us today they’re really watching the number of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19, and the number of critical care beds being used. Both of those numbers remain extremely low compared to the winter months.
However, there has also been some movement on that front. Johnson Memorial Health spent more than a month with no COVID-positive patients requiring inpatient care. That changed a couple weeks ago.
“It’s not horrible right now, but we’ve had a couple hospitalized COVID patients,” said Johnson Memorial Health President and CEO Dr. David Dunkle. “We’ve also for the first time in a while had a couple employees out with COVID.”
“Luckily, they haven’t been very severely ill, which is great, compared to what we’ve seen in the past,” Dunkle added.
While the BA2 sub-variant of COVID-19 has been prevalent in recent surges in other parts of the country and world, McMasters said it’s too early to tell if it is contributing to the current increase showing up in Indiana.
“Definitely Spring Break occurred recently, also proms are occurring right now,” she said. “So it might be less about the virus, but more about people getting together in different ways.”
Health experts also agree that official statewide totals are likely lower than the actual number of COVID positive Hoosiers out there. That’s because people who test positive on at-home tests are often unlikely to report their test results to their local health department.
While at-home tests are a valuable tool in determining whether a person is suffering from allergies, COVID-19 or something else, the hope is that those who test positive at home will stay at home and follow isolation protocols.
“They need to stay home, they need to cancel outings, they need to isolate themselves from other family members,” Dunkle said.
“Washing your hands, staying home when you’re sick and if you feel comfortable wearing a mask, do so,” McMasters said.
“The hospitals are watching, the epidemiologists are watching because we do know that many other states across the nation are seeing an increase,” Kelley said.