Bloomington health officials have warned that COVID-19-related hospital admissions are increasing yet again and urged residents to take precautions, including getting vaccinated and potentiated, wearing masks indoors in public places, and staying home when symptomatic.
“We’re … currently in another wave,” Brian Shockney, president of Indiana Health’s South Central Region, which includes Bloomington.
The South Central region of the healthcare system had 31 COVID patients in hospital as of Friday, and Shockney said the additional patients, along with nationwide labor constraints, are posing challenges for healthcare workers.
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“Hospitals are still struggling to find hospital beds,” he said. “It is difficult to provide assistance to all those who need it.”
The number of new COVID-19 infections in Monroe County has remained below 50 for all but two days in the past month, according to the Indiana State Department of Health dashboard, but health officials said the number actual cases are probably much higher. Most people now get confirmation of their infections through home tests, the results of which are not reported to local or state officials and therefore are not reflected in the official tally.
Health officials said other numbers, including increased hospitalizations, tell the story. In addition, the number of Bloomington City employees who were infected also increased for the fourth consecutive month in July.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have classified Monroe and Brown counties as “medium,” which means that people at high risk of serious illness should speak to their health care providers if they should take precautions such as wearing a mask. All other counties contiguous to Monroe are classified as “tall,” which means people should wear masks indoors in public.
Shockney also said that the vaccination status of people who are in the hospital with COVID-19 has changed. For much of the time vaccines have been available, the vast majority of people who have been hospitalized and have died from the disease have not been vaccinated. However, on Friday, IU Health unveiled a graph showing that 20 of the 31 patients in the hospital had been vaccinated. In addition, half of the six people in the ICU were vaccinated, as were both patients on ventilation.
However, both Schockney and Indiana University Chief Health Officer Dr. Aaron Carroll stressed that vaccines remain effective in preventing serious illness and urged people to get vaccinated, including boosters.
In prefix 47401, nearly 70 percent of residents are fully vaccinated, according to the ISDH.
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Shockney said most people who are in the hospital with COVID have underlying conditions. And Carroll said in previous waves, his infectious disease colleagues were treating many people in the hospital because they had COVID-19, while now most medical staff are treating people for various conditions and those patients also test positive for. COVID-19.
Overall, Carroll said, recent infections have caused relatively few serious illnesses and deaths. COVID-19 killed millions of people, he said, and vaccines have helped turn it into a disease that most people don’t suffer from serious consequences.
“This is a major win, even if the cases remain higher than we would like,” he said.
Carroll also urged people to stay home if they have cold or flu symptoms, regardless of whether they have a confirmed case of COVID-19.
Local health and government officials held a press conference on Friday because they want people to stay alert now that schools are back in full swing and Indiana University students are about to return to the community. IU classes start on August 22nd.