Press release: New strain of COVID-19 in Hoosier state, vaccine dashboard gets daily update

Indiana’s department of health issued a press release just before noon on Monday (Dec. 11) saying that a new strain of COVID-19, previously identified in the United Kingdom, has been found in the state of Indiana.

According to the press release, the new strain does not cause more severe infections, but spreads easier. The state’s health commissioner, Kris Box, is quoted in the release saying, “It’s common for viruses to mutate, and we are seeing that occur with COVID-19.”

The quote from Box continues, “Because this strain of the virus can be transmitted more easily, it’s more important than ever that Hoosiers continue to wear their masks, practice social distancing, maintain good hygiene and get vaccinated when they are eligible.”

[Updated on Jan. 11, 2021 at 3:57 p.m. A spokesperson for the state’s department of health responded to a Square Beacon question about the possibility of separate tracking of the new strain by saying, “We do not intend to track it differently on the dashboard.” That’s because “It is normal for viruses to mutate, but the disease the virus caused – COVID-19 – is unchanged,” according to the spokesperson.]

The vaccine mentioned in Box’s quote is part of another update in the press release—about the state’s vaccine dashboard. It will now be updated daily, according to the release. Since its initial launch in recent weeks, it has been updated just on Wednesdays.

The press release does not include any discussion of how many of recent cases in the state might be attributed to the new strain.

Reports from national news outlets indicate that Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is effective against the new strain.

Both the state of Indiana and Monroe County are showing an upward trend in case numbers. The state’s Monday dashboard showed 55 cases recorded for Monroe County on Sunday.

That’s less than the rolling 7-day average of 79. But the rolling daily average for Monroe County has been on an upward trend, from around 50, since the start of 2021.

That’s similar to the statewide picture of 3,726 cases reported for Sunday, against a rolling 7-day average of 5,402. The statewide rolling average at the start of the year was around 4,000.