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Indiana Covid Update (12/1/2022)
Infections are on the rise and we are likely entering a winter Covid wave. Healthcare workers are stressed
Hi folks! Before I get to the Covid data, I have a quick poll. I intended to use this space only for economic stuff, but I’ve had some requests to continue reporting on Covid data for Indiana, especially as we enter a new winter wave. Would you like to see Covid data like this? Or should I stick to only economics? Please let me know by answering the poll below. Thanks!
The winter wave is coming
Below you can find the latest dashboard of Covid-19 metrics for Indiana.
Trends have clearly reversed and all leading metrics have now risen to “moderate” levels with strong indications of rising infections. The level of daily new cases is not particularly useful as most official testing is limited to hospital and urgent care settings while thousands of at-home tests go unreported, but the direction of the trend still tells us much.
Concentration of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in wastewater continues to be the best indicator of infections we have. It is both independent of the amount of testing being done and capable of identifying a change in trend much more quickly than testing data. Wastewater concentration levels are rising, and rising fast. If we look at the two counties which have already reported current data for 11/30 (Hamilton and Delaware counties) virus concentration in sewage has doubled over the last two weeks.
Infections may be up, but hospitalizations are still relatively low
While infections are clearly rising, the current healthcare situation is dramatically different than the first two years of the pandemic in some ways. Over the last week in Indiana, we admitted 100 new patients per day on average to Indiana hospitals for Covid. While this may sound high, it is roughly a third of the rate we had at this time in the previous two years. For both of the last two years, hospital admissions began rising far earlier (mid-Sept. 2020 and early Nov. 2021) and much more rapidly. While hospital admissions are rising, the level of stress on hospitals specifically from Covid is relatively very low.
Respiratory viruses (more than Covid) are stressing or overwhelming healthcare providers
While hospital admissions for Covid are far lower now than the previous two years, unfortunately, most healthcare workers are not getting much of a break. It seems like everyone is sick for one reason or another and respiratory viruses (Influenza, RSV, etc.) are running wild right now.
The figure below shows the percentage of patients visiting participating Indiana healthcare facilities presenting with a chief complaint of a fever of 100° or higher accompanied by either a cough and/or sore throat, or complaining of “influenza.” Think of this as a rough measure of how widespread respiratory viruses are. The 2.5% dotted line in the graph is a baseline for determining if we’ve entered ‘flu season.’ We are currently (for Nov.) at 4.33%, or well above this cut-off level and almost three times the level we were at during the previous four years at this time.
The staff in hospitals, emergency departments and urgent cares are very stressed right now, even if Covid isn’t the main reason. Don’t avoid these facilities if you need to visit one, but if you’re not sick, please do all you can to avoid getting sick. Both for yourself and our healthcare workers.
Here are my three key takeaways:
Covid infections are rising again, but still at relatively low levels. Hospitalizations are low.
Respiratory (non-Covid) virus are running rampant right now, at levels we haven’t seen since before the pandemic began.
Please consider taking extra precautions like wearing a high quality mask (N95, KN94 or KF94) in public spaces and avoiding or limiting the number of large gatherings until things calm down.