INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) – Officials with the Indiana State Department of Health announced Indiana is seeing a significant increase in COVID-19 variant cases across the Hoosier state.
On Friday during a press conference, State Health Commissioner Kristina Box, M.D said the Alpha variant from the United Kingdom remains the top variant detected. However, the state is noticing a “significant increase” in the Delta variant.
Dr. Box added that this increase is concerning because these variants are more contagious, infections and severe compared to the original strain.
“Unfortunately we have seen that play out in several long term care facilities recently,” Dr. Box said. “We are currently dealing with outbreaks with residents and staff at four facilities across the state. These are located in Howard, Fulton, Allen and Gibson counties.”
At least 27-cases have been identified at these four facilities since mid-June, and seven long term facility residents have died. According to Dr. Box, the majority of the cases and deaths were with people who were unvaccinated or partially vaccinated.
“Unfortunately, we do continue to expect to see outbreaks especially in areas with low vaccination rates,” Dr. Box said. “It’s important to remember that very few vaccines are 100 percent effective at preventing symptomatic illness, but this data clearly show that the vaccines are extremely effective at preventing sever illness that can lead to hospitalization and death.”
Dr. Box said that Indiana will see a surge in Delta variant cases like other states and countries. She added that those who are unvaccinated need to be careful and wear their mask. However, the state isn’t planning to any restrictions at the state level, but counties and schools can partner with their local health department to determine guidelines.
“I can tell you now after doing this for 15 or 16 months that people come down about half and half,” Dr. Box said. “If you mandate masks 50 percent of people are angry. If you don’t mandate masks 50 percent of people are angry. I think no one should be criticized if the school doesn’t require masks – sending their child to school with a mask.”
Currently 42.8 percent of Hoosiers are vaccinated. Dr. Box expressed her disappointment with the low rate but understands she has to be patient and that people are hesistant due to the vaccine not being FDA approved.
Chief Medical Officer Lindsay Weaver, M.D. is concerned with the low vaccination rate, since variant cases are on the rise.
“Many parents have expressed hesitation vaccinating their children because of concerns of possible health effects such as mild myocarditis or pericarditis,” Dr. Weaver said. “There have been reports of cases of these conditions in young people who have received the mRNA vaccines which are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. What I want to emphasize is this, these conditions are easily treatable. The risk associated with COVID-19 are higher.”
Back in June the 7-day positive rate reached a low of 2.0 percent, but has since increased to 4.0 percent.