Across its whole system, IU Health is now caring for its highest number of COVID-19 patients since the pandemic started.
That was the bad news delivered by president of IU Health’s south central region, Brian Shockney, at Friday’s biweekly news conference with local leaders on pandemic response.
Shockney put that state of affairs in the context of the one-year milestone for the first vaccines administered in the state of Indiana. He said, “We didn’t think one year after the vaccine became available, we would see our highest COVID-19 volumes to date.”
Shockney continued, “That just seems unreal that we have a vaccine and we’re in this state of highest numbers of inpatients in our hospitals.”
Shockney said IU Health has for now suspended all elective surgeries.
As a reason for cautious optimism, Shockney gave the leveling off of positive cases statewide. The leveling and subsequent dropping of positive case numbers tends to be followed by a downward trend in hospital inpatient numbers, Shockney said.
With the next round of holiday gatherings on the horizon, Shockney said, “It’s imperative that we all take precautions during this time. Our January and February can be a good January and February and not the same as December, if we do the right thing.”
The “right thing,” according to Shockeny and other health officials, includes getting an initial vaccination, a booster for people who have already been vaccinated, and a test for people who think they might be symptomatic.
For area residents who want to get dosed up with COVID-19 vaccine before the next set of holidays hits, Monroe County’s health department has arranged for a mobile clinic three days next week to be held at Bloomington’s Switchyard Park. This clinic will offer the full menu of vaccines—including pediatric doses for kids age 5-17 and boosters.
Times for the clinic are from noon to 8 p.m. on Dec. 20, Dec, 21, and Dec. 22.
Also available at the Switchyard clinics next week are rapid antigen and PCR tests. It’s preferred that an appointment be made, but as of late Friday, the state’s registration site did not include the Switchyard clinic in its listing.
When the Switchyard clinic does get listed, an easy way to find it is with the ‘magnifying glass’ search icon in the upper right of the screen: Type in the word “Switchyard” If someone is not able to make an appointment, walk-ins will be accepted according to Monroe County health administrator Penny Caudill.
Friday’s grim news from Shockney was matched by the city of Bloomington’s announcement that another 9 employees had received a positive COVID-19 test. That followed last week’s total of 11, and brings the total number of confirmed cases among city of Bloomington employees to 147.
By city department the COVID-19 cases break down like this: Water Utilities (31); Fire (28); Public Works (19); Bloomington Transit (17); Police (16); Parks (16); City Hall (15); and Bloomington Housing Authority (5).
The city also keeps track of its overall vaccination rate among employees—because it offers a financial incentive for getting vaccinated—but those numbers are not broken down by department.
Responding to a question from the B Square, Bloomington’s director of communications Yael Ksander, “The department or division in which an employee works has been shared with the public in these announcements in the event that service delivery is impacted, and/or, to the extent that municipal jobs have interaction with the public, in the spirit of transparency.”
Ksander’s statement continues: “While the City shares the overall vaccination rate for the organization in the same spirit of transparency, we believe that it does not serve the public’s need to know further to categorize that date by department, but could, on the flip side, serve to compromise employee privacy or stigmatize a department.”
Not discussed at Friday’s news conference was one potential improvement in the last several months of data—the number of positive cases recorded compared to the number of deaths. From June through November, 2021 saw more positive cases but fewer deaths than 2020.
For that six-month space in 2020, Indiana recorded 310,244 positive COVID-19 cases, compared to 361,041 in 2021.
From June through November in 2020, Indiana recorded 4,349 COVID-19 deaths compared to 3,873 deaths for the same period in 2021. For that period the ratio of deaths to positive cases was about 0.014 in 2020 compared to 0.011 in 2021.