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COVID-19 pandemic numbers are declining: How much and why?

Health experts are looking for reasons why the numbers, though still high, are declining.

INDIANAPOLIS — The coronavirus continues to spread through Indiana but appears to be slowing down. 

Monday, the State Department Of Health reported 2,210 new cases and 12 additional deaths. That brings the state's total to 93,052 confirmed deaths since the pandemic started.

Health experts are looking for reasons why the numbers, though still high, are declining.

Fishers opened its mass vaccination clinic with people waiting and eager to protect themselves from COVID-19.

"I want to get through this on to the next year and be able to spend time with family and friends," Linda Van Vierzen said.

Since Indiana began vaccinating high-risk Hoosiers, those 70 and older, nursing home residents and health care workers, the number of deaths, hospitalizations and new infections have dropped significantly.

"I'm very encouraged. It is a really big deal," Dr. Paul Calkins, associate chief medical executive at IU Health said. "Because people in the hospital are dropping dramatically, too. It's very encouraging."

IU Health's 16 hospitals have about 330 COVID-19 patients. That's a 32-percent decrease from a December high of nearly 500.

At the same time, the number of hospital workers testing positive for the virus fell 56 percent. 

Although the lower numbers are still several times higher than they were in late summer, frontline caregivers are getting some relief.

"It takes a tremendous stain off the hospital system when we don't have patients in every bed," Calkins explained.

Other hospitals are seeing similar improvements.

Across the state, COVID-related hospitalizations are down by about 41 percent. Deaths are down by more than half.

The big question is, "why?" Only about a half-million Hoosiers have received their vaccinations.

"Most of those people haven't had their second dose," Calkins said. "So they only have partial protection, so I don't think we can claim the vaccination as the reason."

Numbers are improving across the country. Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci believes that's a result of a natural plateau after the holiday surge, and not because of the vaccine.

For now, health care providers appear satisfied in knowing that the numbers are down and hopes are higher.  

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