(INDIANAPOLIS) — Indiana coronavirus hospitalizations are finally declining after climbing steadily for two-and-a-half months. But hospitals warn it may be a mirage.
There have been more than 3,000 Hoosiers in the hospital with coronavirus for 20 days in a row, nearly double the highest total from the first wave of the pandemic. But after peaking at nearly 3,500 a week ago, the hospital count has dropped by 7%, the first sustained decline in two-and-a-half months.
Indiana Hospital Association president Brian Tabor cautions hospitalizations are a lagging indicator.
While four out of five coronavirus patients never get sick enough to go to the hospital, those who do
typically take five-to-seven days to reach that point. Hospitals got a breather last week because
cases had dropped the week before. But while hospital numbers were down, case numbers rose
again, averaging a new high of 7,000 a day.
Tabor says the Thanksgiving holiday makes the trends more challenging to assess. The four-day
weekend caused a delay in reporting some results. But local, state and federal health officials have
warned they expect a fresh increase in cases this week and next as a result of people catching the
virus during Thanksgiving gatherings.
Tabor says unlike some states, Indiana still has the capacity to handle the swelling caseload,
though he says hospitals have had to get “creative” to maintain capacity, sending some patients to
long-term acute care facilities to continue their recovery. The state has about 500 open intensive-care beds, and could add 1,200 more if needed. But Tabor warns the numbers could grow to a
point beyond hospitals’ ability to adapt.
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