‘Indiana is on fire’: Governor announces new limits, directs hospitals to suspend non-emergency procedures


INDIANAPOLIS (WXIN) — Gov. Holcomb announced Wednesday that Indiana will be directing hospitals to postpone or reschedule all non-emergency inpatient elective procedures for three weeks, as well as imposing new social gathering restrictions.

“Our nurses, doctors, and assistants are overwhelmed. They’re beyond exhausted,” the governor said. He explained the new directive will begin December 16 through January 3 in order to lighten the load of health care workers and make sure facilities are not overrun in the coming weeks. 

Starting this weekend, social gatherings will be capped based on each county’s status in the ISDH metric map (25 red, 50 orange, 100 yellow, 250 blue) – local health departments are not allowed to grant exceptions.

K-12 extracurricular activities and co-curricular activities can continue but attendance is limited to participants, support personnel and parents/guardians with their minor children for counties in red.

College and professional sports may continue with participants, support personnel and family members, and a local health department can approve a plan for fan attendance of up to 25% capacity.

He opened the weekly coronavirus briefing by stating “the state of Indiana is on fire” based on the number of red counties on the state’s color-coded map, and said if you have a serious medical condition, you should go see your doctor now.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of the state’s color-coded county map from last week to this week:

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Holcomb and State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said Hoosiers should focus on these 10 things as we continue to navigate the pandemic:

  1. Limit the size of gatherings based on the new metric restrictions
  2. Pause non-emergent inpatient procedures in hospitals to free up hospital beds
  3. Follow the mask mandate
  4. Keep 6 feet from others while masking up whether social-distanced or not
  5. Wash hands throughout the day
  6. Get tested if you are sick or symptomatic
  7. Stay home and isolate if you test positive for COVID-19
  8. Employers should talk to employees about best practices outside of work
  9. Donate blood and donate to food pantries if you are able
  10. Stay informed about vaccine distribution in 2021

Until a large portion of Indiana is vaccinated, which will take many months after distribution starts, Dr. Box said Hoosiers need to stay the course — mask up, stay socially distanced, wash your hands and stay home if you are sick.

Wednesday afternoon, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reported an additional 5,853 cases and 98 additional deaths. All of Indiana’s counties are now in either orange or red on the state’s color-coded county map.

As an emergency authorization for a vaccine nears, ISDH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said the anticipated approval of the Pfizer vaccine Thursday “signals the beginning of the end of this pandemic,” but noted that Indiana still has a long way to go. 

Dr. Weaver expects the first doses to arrive next week and said they will go to frontline health care workers with additional doses expected weekly. She said CVS and Walgreens will help distribute these vaccines at long-term care facilities.

Dr. Weaver reminded Hoosiers that Pfizer’s vaccine is two-doses and said it’s imperative that those getting the vaccine get that second dose. She added that people who have already gotten COVID-19 and recovered are still being recommended to get the vaccine.

The governor was also joined by Indiana Chamber of Commerce CEO Kevin Brinegar and Indiana Manufacturers Association CEO Brian Burton.

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