INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- The
Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday again increased the number
of counties designated as higher-risk locations for coronavirus spread as
the state continues to record sharp increases in hospitalizations and new
Fifty-three of Indiana’s 92
counties were placed in orange or red levels under the agency’s color-coded
weekly tracking map update, compared to 40 counties that were at those
levels last week.
COVID-19 spread in virtually every county,” Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb
said during a news conference Wednesday. “Our hospitals are under a
tremendous amount of pressure.”
More than 100 people a day
are being admitted to Indiana hospitals with COVID-19 symptoms, said Dr.
Kristina Box, Indiana’s health commissioner. Almost 70% of those
hospitalized with the coronavirus in Indiana are age 60 or older, she
continued, lending to a new statewide effort focused on protecting venerable
populations in long-term care settings, like nursing homes and assisted
To slow the spread of the
virus, more than 1,300 members of Indiana’s National Guard are being
deployed to the 133 hardest hit long-term care centers on Nov. 3, assisting
with infection control practices like improved COVID-19 testing for facility
residents and employees. That support will then expand to all 534 nursing
homes in Indiana over the next three weeks, Adjutant General, Brig. Gen.
Dale Lyles said Wednesday. The extra help will be available until Dec. 31.
Holcomb decided a month ago
to lift nearly all of Indiana’s restrictions while extending the statewide
mask mandate. He announced Oct. 14 another month-long renewal of the mask
order until at least Nov. 14.
The governor, up for
reelection next week, doubled down on the importance of mask-wearing, which
he called “a small price to pay” in order to bring COVID-19 case numbers
down, as well as for keeping schools and businesses open.
Still, Box noted ongoing
“challenges” with contact-tracing that could be worsening the statewide
spread of COVID-19. The state is seeing an uptick in people who are refusing
to answer questions or comply with contact tracers, Box said, as well as
families that are neglecting to test multiple people in their homes to avoid
The state health
department’s daily update of its coronavirus dashboard showed 1,679 Hoosiers
are currently hospitalized with the coronavirus, the highest since
Mid-April. Of those, 470 are in intensive care.
Such hospitalizations have
grown by more than 69% since Sept. 22 -- the day before Holcomb announced
The state’s availability of
open ICU beds has dropped below 30% for the first time since health
officials started tracking the metric.