Bloomington pandemic update: A “sense of calm” as COVID-19 case numbers subside

Just two COVID-19 patients are currently being treated in IU Health hospitals across the health provider’s south central region, which includes Bloomington, Bedford and Paoli.

Both of those patients are at Bloomington’s new hospital, according to Brian Shockney, who is president of IU Health’s south central region. Shockney was speaking at Friday’s biweekly news conference of local leaders on pandemic response.

Shockney described a change in atmosphere at IU Health’s Bloomington hospital: “For the first time, our team was truly faced with a sense of calm this past week after these two years of pandemic.” Continue reading “Bloomington pandemic update: A “sense of calm” as COVID-19 case numbers subside”

Updated: [Governor rescinds emergency order] Mask mandate rescinded by Monroe County health board effective after March 3

Monroe County’s indoor mask order was rescinded on a unanimous vote of the Monroe County board of health at its Thursday afternoon meeting.

The indoor mask mandate is no longer in effect after the end of March 3—at midnight between Thursday and Friday. The mandate is connected with an effort to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic virus.

The board of health replaced the mandate with a series of strong recommendations on mask wearing, vaccination, cautions about gathering sizes, and posting of signs by businesses encouraging wearing of masks.

Among the sample signs for businesses shown to board of health members were some that promoted the message: Be nice to people who are wearing masks.

Businesses can still insist that their customers wear masks. Continue reading “Updated: [Governor rescinds emergency order] Mask mandate rescinded by Monroe County health board effective after March 3”

Pandemic notebook: Adjusted daily data shows downward (and upward) trends a smidgen earlier

Numbers reported in all categories related to the COVID-19 pandemic continue to decline.

A change to the way the state of Indiana is reporting daily case totals hasn’t changed the shape of the trends. Continue reading “Pandemic notebook: Adjusted daily data shows downward (and upward) trends a smidgen earlier”

Pandemic notebook: Declining case numbers give momentum for lifting restrictions

The Monday update to Indiana’s COVID-19 data dashboard confirmed the trend in declining positive case numbers and hospital census statewide.

Also in Monroe County the downward trend continued, as the rolling daily average of positive cases dropped to 37. That’s still about twice the rolling average at this same time last year. But it’s just one-eighth the rolling average posted by Monroe County a month ago, on Jan. 21.

Hospitalizations statewide are down, too. The statewide hospital census of COVID-19 patients now stands at 1,093. That’s less than a third of the peak number on Jan. 13, which was 3,519.

It’s a similar picture for Hospital District 8, which includes Monroe County. The District 8 COVID-19 census is now 64 patients compared to 171 a month ago. Besides Monroe County, District 8 includes Brown, Bartholomew, Lawrence, Jackson, Orange, and Washington counties.

The improving trends after the surge, caused by the Omicron variant of the virus, has helped add momentum to sentiment in favor of lifting of various restrictions.

It’s not certain, but among B Square sources, Indiana governor Eric Holcomb is not expected to extend his current emergency order, which currently is set to expire on March 4. Continue reading “Pandemic notebook: Declining case numbers give momentum for lifting restrictions”

Pandemic notebook: Decline in positive cases continues with slight hitch

Monroe County’s confirmed positive COVID-19 numbers continue their rapid decrease, after a spike that saw them go up just about as fast.

That matches the trend across the state of Indiana.

Also showing a similar pattern for the county and the whole state is a hitch in the decrease for the rolling 7-day average of daily cases.

For Monroe County, the rolling average for the last five days has been stuck between 65 and 70 cases a day.

That’s a wrinkle that could be a side effect of the snowstorm that shut down many testing facilities on Feb. 3 and Feb. 4, just before the weekend. That could have led to a delay in testing or reports of tests until the following Monday and Tuesday, bumping the numbers for those two days, which are still a part of the current rolling daily average. Continue reading “Pandemic notebook: Decline in positive cases continues with slight hitch”

Monroe County mask mandate likely to end whenever governor’s emergency order expires

Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s current order declaring a health emergency for Indiana due to the COVID-19 pandemic will expire on March 4, if he doesn’t extend it for a 24th time.

If Holcomb doesn’t extend the order, Monroe County’s board of health members are now inclined to let the mask mandate expire with the governor’s order. That’s based on their discussion at the board of health’s Thursday meeting.

No vote was taken on a formal motion. Continue reading “Monroe County mask mandate likely to end whenever governor’s emergency order expires”

COVID-19 update: Numbers hit plateau, vaccine clinics this week

After a steep climb starting in late 2021 going through mid-January, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Monroe County and the state of Indiana appear to have plateaued and are starting to show signs of declining.

In Monroe County, the rolling 7-day average has stayed mostly under 290 cases per day for the last two weeks, after hitting 293 on Jan. 13.

The statewide hospital census of COVID-19 patients shows the same general trend, although the rise in cases has been smaller, compared to the total number of cases. Statewide, the rolling daily average census of patients who are hospitalized with the pandemic virus has declined for the last five days, after peaking at around 3,450 patients.

Based on numbers from Indiana’s pandemic dashboard, 75 percent of positive COVID-19 cases in the last four weeks were caused by the Omicron variant.

Vaccine clinics at two locations this week are being promoted by Monroe County’s public health department. Continue reading “COVID-19 update: Numbers hit plateau, vaccine clinics this week”

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”