Coronavirus Health Indiana News

Indiana health officials are reporting a quick rise in COVID-19 cases this week, with more than 12,000 reported Thursday. That’s a record for daily new cases, and follows the nearly 8,000 reported Wednesday. 

The previous record was set last December, with just over 8,000 daily cases.  

Residents of Clark or Floyd counties made up 329 of the cases in the Thursday report. The state’s positivity rate for all tests between Dec. 17 and 23 is 14.9%.

Health officials in Jefferson County and Kentucky as a whole also reported on Wednesday a steep increase in new positive cases since last week. 

The new omicron variant is showing a relative uptick on the Indiana Department of Health dashboard, though it still makes up the vast minority of cases – moving from 0.1% since the variant was identified locally earlier this month to 0.9% midweek. Delta accounts for around 99% of samples reported so far. 

But sequencing samples to identify strains can take a few weeks, so there could be a lag in reporting omicron cases that are being tested now. Dr. Kris Box, Indiana’s state health commissioner, said she expects to see a change soon. 

“At this time, delta remains the predominant variant in Indiana but we expect that that will shift quickly,” Box said during a briefing Wednesday. “Omicron is very easily transmitted and infects and multiplies 70 times faster in the major airways of the lungs of an infected individual.”

Omicron was first identified overseas in late November, and in the United States on Dec. 1. 

“This situation will get worse before it improves,” Box said. “Based on data from other countries who are further along in their omicron surge, we expect to see a very steep rise in cases over the next several weeks.”

Omicron is much more transmissible than delta, but those who are fully vaccinated and boosted may experience less severe illness. 

Box and other health officials urged continued vaccinations, masking and hygiene to help curb the spread of the virus. 

For information on testing and vaccinations, visit www.ourshot.in.gov.

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.