INDIANAPOLIS — Wednesday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.
State stepping back from Stage 5
Gov. Eric Holcomb provided an update on the COVID-19 response. He said people are viewing Stage 5 as a reason to act like there is no pandemic.
"Unfortunately too many of us have let our guard down," Holcomb said.
The governor said things are now reaching critical points including: hospitalized patients, new COVID patients being hospitalized, the 7-day positivity rate is more than 10 percent, and hospital staff shortages and illness.
"We must do all we can to protect our hospital capacity," Holcomb said.
Beginning Nov. 15, Holcomb is stepping Indiana back from Stage 5 and signing pandemic requirements for all Hoosiers and restrictions for counties. Those requirements include social distancing and wearing a mask. Businesses will need to post signs saying masks are required and to encourage social distancing amongst customers.
The governor is asking people to limit or stop visiting family at long-term care facilities. Hoosiers are also encouraged to limit gatherings at home and to try to keep gatherings outside.
The state uses positivity rates and other factors to color code each county's level of COVID concern. The state updates that map with daily numbers.
For counties in orange, gatherings will be limited at 50 people. Larger events will need approval of the local health department. That includes limiting attendance at school athletic and other events to 25 percent.
For those counties in red, gathering will be limited at 25 people. Gathering with more than 25 people will need approval for the local health department. Local officials can limit hours for bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
These restrictions will be in place for at least the next month.
The state will make $20 million for local governments to use for compliance efforts including: planning, public awareness, and enforcement. In order to be eligible, the local governments will be asked to support compliance.
The governor said they are trying to avoid businesses having to shutdown, so Hoosiers must take precautions now to stop the surge.
"Things will shutdown and decrease if we don't take action," Dr. Box echoed.
Vaccine and holidays update
Dr. Kristina Box said many Indiana hospitals are being overwhelmed and have had to divert patients or get creative with where they treat patients.
The state is still hopeful a limited supply of vaccine will make it to Indiana this month.
"This will be a difficult holiday season for many Hoosiers," Dr. Box said. "It won't look like last year. It can't look like last year."
Additional precautions on the holidays will be released next week.
Hamilton Southeastern Schools announce changes in operational plan
Hamilton Southeastern Schools approved changes to the district’s operations plan Wednesday evening.
On the same day that the city of Fishers elevated their COVID-19 community risk rating, HSE announced the following, effective Nov. 16 through Dec. 18:
- Grades PreK-4 will remain 100% in-person
- Grades 5-6 will remain hybrid (50/50)
- Grades 7-12 will move to 100% virtual
The timeline for the adjustments is subject to change, the district said in a message to families.
Cities closing public buildings
The City of Greenwood has closed its City Center building to public visitors in response to the significant increase of COVID-19 cases. The City government remains fully operational.
City of Lawrence
The City of Lawrence will close the City of Lawrence Government Center and all other City of Lawrence municipal buildings to the public through at least the end of the month.
The city will continue to offer services, though some services could be restricted or delayed during this emergency.
Services deemed “Essential Services,” including public safety services and sanitation, will continue to operate.
The Indiana State Department of Health reports a new daily high of 5,156 new cases for a total of 224,374 since the pandemic began.
There were also 31 more deaths from COVID-19 reported bringing the state total to 4,512.
CDC's new COVID-19 guidance says masks protect wearers and those around them
Wearing a mask not only protects others from the spread of the coronavirus, but it protects the wearer too, according to new guidance released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday.
SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, is spread through respiratory droplets generated when people cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe. The CDC said a cloth mask can act as a barrier or "source control" by blocking incoming infected droplets from others.
"Adopting universal masking policies can help avert future lockdowns, especially if combined with other non-pharmaceutical interventions such as social distancing, hand hygiene, and adequate ventilation," the CDC said in its document that details scientific evidence.
Studies listed in the CDC guidance claim that masks reduce the risk of transmitting or catching the virus by more than 70% in various instances. One experiment found infected people who spent more than 10 hours on flights without infecting other passengers when masks were used. Another study claims that two symptomatic hair stylists wearing masks didn't transmit the virus to 67 clients who were later interviews.
The new statement added that cloth masks in some studies were just as good as surgical masks at blocking droplets. The CDC said that some materials like polypropylene may create a static charge that captures particles, while other materials like silk could provide comfort and repel moisture droplets.
"Multiple layers of cloth with higher thread counts have demonstrated superior performance compared to single layers of cloth with lower thread counts, in some cases filtering nearly 50% of fine particles less than 1 micron," the guidance said.
The CDC even offered an economic argument, claiming that if 15% of people would wear a mask, then it could prevent the need for lockdowns and "reduce associated losses of up to $1 trillion or about 5% of gross domestic product."
Latest US, world numbers
There have been more than 10.25 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of 3:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 239,000 deaths and 3.96 million people recovered.
Worldwide, there have been more than 51.5 million confirmed cases with more than 1.27 million deaths and 33.57 million recoveries.
The real number of people infected by the virus around the world is believed to be much higher — perhaps 10 times higher in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — given testing limitations and the many mild cases that have gone unreported or unrecognized.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness like pneumonia, or death.
US sets record for COVID-19 hospitalizations, but signs show we're better prepared now
The U.S. hit a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations Tuesday and surpassed 1 million new confirmed cases in just the first 10 days of November amid a nationwide surge of infections that shows no signs of slowing.
The new wave appears bigger and more widespread than the surges that happened in the spring and summer — and threatens to be worse. But experts say there are also reasons to think the nation is better able to deal with the virus this time around.
“We’re definitely in a better place” when it comes to improved medical tools and knowledge, said William Hanage, a Harvard University infectious-disease researcher.
Newly confirmed infections in the U.S. were running at all-time highs of well over 100,000 per day, pushing the total to more than 10 million and eclipsing 1 million since Halloween. There are now 61,964 people hospitalized, according to the COVID Tracking Project.
The U.S. set a new single-day record for new COVID-19 cases Tuesday with more than 136,000, according to Johns Hopkins University. The country has been above 100,000 new cases for eight consecutive days.
Deaths — a lagging indicator, since it takes time for people to get sick and die — are climbing again, reaching an average of more than 930 a day.
Hospitals are getting slammed. And unlike the earlier outbreaks, this one is not confined to a region or two.
But there is also some good news.
Doctors now better know how to treat severe cases, meaning higher percentages of the COVID-19 patients who go into intensive care units are coming out alive. Patients have the benefit of new treatments, namely remdesivir, the steroid dexamethasone and an antibody drug that won emergency-use approval from the Food and Drug Administration on Monday. Also, testing is more widely available.
In addition, a vaccine appears to be on the horizon, perhaps around the end of the year, with Pfizer this week reporting early results showing that its experimental shots are a surprising 90% effective at preventing the disease.
Center Grove middle, high school students have e-learning day Wednesday
Center Grove students in grades 6-12 will have an e-learning day on Wednesday, Nov. 11, then move to a blended schedule starting on Thursday due to COVID-19 concerns.
Elementary school students are not affected by the changes.
Last week, most Johnson County school districts moved to e-learning or hybrid schedules for students, but Center Grove decided to stick with in-person learning.