Health Southern Indiana

COVID-19 hospitalizations are on the rise in Indiana as the delta variant continues to spread across the state.

As of Wednesday, more than 2,000 Hoosiers were hospitalized with COVID-19. That’s the first time that’s happened since January. Hospitalizations have increased by about 100 people each day for three days running and more than tripled since a month ago.

Public Health Preparedness District 9, which comprises Clark, Floyd and 10 other counties in southeastern Indiana, has experienced similar growth in that time frame. But hospitals in the district are much closer to hitting capacity limits than the state average.

“Essentially, almost all the hospitals in Southern Indiana are pretty full from a capacity side of things — holding patients in the emergency department who are already admitted to the hospital, waiting for a bed open up and things like that,” said Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel.

About a quarter of ICU beds in the state are still available. Less than 6% are open in District 9.

Yazel said COVID-19 hospital stays usually lasted between 10 and 25 days during last winter’s surge. That’s dropped to about three or four days in recent months.

But he worries the situation could worsen due to the delta variant.

“We do have some, and it’s an increasing number, that are starting to get sicker and utilize ICU resources and have longer lengths of stay,” Yazel said. “And as long as our numbers keep rising, that trend will probably continue.”

Floyd County Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris said hospitals are expecting cases and admissions to rise until the end of October. He said more than 99% of cases are in the unvaccinated population.

But some breakthrough cases have affected fully-vaccinated people. Harris said residents who are eligible for a booster shot of the coronavirus vaccine should take it to limit breakthroughs.

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 5,037 new COVID-19 cases in the state on Wednesday. The statewide moving average for daily COVID-19 cases is more than five times higher than a month ago, topping 3,500.

In Clark and Floyd counties, the combined average for new COVID-19 cases is nearly six times higher than a month ago, up to 153 on Wednesday.

John Boyle covers southern Indiana communities and health for WFPL News. He is a Report for America Corps member.