COVID-19 numbers continue steep climb as Monroe County and Bloomington take different paths after Supreme Court vax-or-test ruling

The number of positive COVID-19 cases across Indiana and in Monroe County has continued its steep rise.

The big case numbers form part of the background to Thursday’s U.S. Supreme ruling on the OSHA emergency temporary standard set forth by the Biden administration.

It’s the standard that includes a requirement for employers with more than 100 workers to be vaccinated or get tested weekly for the pandemic virus.

The Supreme Court ruling imposes a stay on the OSHA rule.

A 6–3 majority on the nation’s highest court agrees that OSHA’s mandate “exceeds its statutory authority and is otherwise unlawful,” which means that the majority thinks the plaintiffs in a lower federal court battle are likely to prevail.

Based on remarks from Bloomington mayor John Hamilton at Friday’s weekly news conference, it sounds like the city of Bloomington is going to stick with its implementation of the OSHA mandate, while a local lawsuit against the city plays out. Three city unions  filed a lawsuit against the city of Bloomington in Monroe County circuit court  over the city’s vax-or-test policy.

Based on an email message sent to department heads by a Monroe County staff attorney, Monroe County will hold off on enforcing its plan to conform with the OSHA mandate.  The email message states: “[D]epartment leaders are being asked to not enforce the additional requirements found in that particular policy.” The message continues, “Compliance with the local health order and other aspects of the County Continuity of Operations Plan is still expected.” Continue reading “COVID-19 numbers continue steep climb as Monroe County and Bloomington take different paths after Supreme Court vax-or-test ruling”

Sheer number of COVID-19 cases has health care system struggling

The rolling average of positive COVID-19 cases in Monroe County now stands at about 152 per day. That’s almost twice the average this time last year. It’s also about 1.5 times the previous pandemic high point for the county, which came in November 2021.

It’s the same picture across all of Indiana. The rolling average of positive cases across the Hoosier state is 10,227, nearly twice the 5,500 average daily cases at this time last year.

Even if the infections caused by the Omicron variant of the virus might be comparatively milder, it’s their sheer number, and the likelihood of spread to vulnerable populations, that is still putting more people in the hospital. And that’s putting a continued strain on statewide and local health systems.

President of IU Health’s south central region, Brian Shockney, put it this way at a news conference of local leaders held Friday: “Omicron is hitting a high number of people and spreading fast to those immunocompromised patients. And they are what we can see in the initial stages here are getting hospitalized.”

Shockney continued, “IU Health is caring for its highest number of patients of the pandemic to date.” He added, “70 percent of these patients are unvaccinated.”

For the watching public, Shockney repeated what has become a kind of mantra: “Get vaccinated. Get boosted. Get tested.” Continue reading “Sheer number of COVID-19 cases has health care system struggling”

Pandemic notebook: Highest ever rolling daily case average for Hoosier state, vaccine clinic in Bloomington Jan. 5 to Jan. 8

The datasets maintained by Indiana’s state department of health were updated Monday afternoon, with the COVID-19 numbers from the previous four days.

Indiana’s rolling average of daily positive test results now stands at 8,175 as of Jan. 2. That’s an all-time pandemic high, eclipsing the previous absolute peak of 6,895 on Dec. 6 of 2020.

In Monroe County, the rolling average now stands at 105 cases a day. That’s not the all-time high. But it’s in the neighborhood of the absolute peak of 114 on Nov. 20, 2020.

A COVID-19 vaccination and testing clinic that’s open to the public is being held from noon to 8 p.m. for four days on Jan. 5, Jan. 6, Jan. 7 and Jan. 8 at 800 N. Indiana Ave. in Bloomington. The location is between 11th and 12th streets. Continue reading “Pandemic notebook: Highest ever rolling daily case average for Hoosier state, vaccine clinic in Bloomington Jan. 5 to Jan. 8”