CHICAGO (CBS) -- Indiana's health department director said Hoosiers still need to stay vigilant against the coronavirus, which claimed 17 more deaths as of Wednesday.
The Indiana Department of Health announced 1,302 new cases bringing the state's total to 128,227. Doctor Kristina Box is the Indiana State Health Commissioner. She said the total number of COVID deaths in Indiana sits at 3,500.
"Another 227 are believed to have died from this disease based on their clinical diagnosis," Box said.
She added that the department is keeping an eye on the numbers entering flu season, to make sure hospitals are not full with people suffering from both COVID and the flu.
"We want to ensure that we don't overwhelm our hospital systems with flu, COVID and other respiratory illnesses. Currently, 51.7% of ICU beds, and 16.8% of ventilators are in use statewide. The majority of these are being used by people who do not have COVID-19. However, we're seeing ICU bed capacity shrink in some areas of the state," Box said.
Box underlined the need for people to be aware of their surroundings, citing an Indiana county where recently dozens of COVID cases were traced back to one event where people gathered indoors, not wearing masks.
"Keep in mind that our temperatures outside are going to continue to drop and that we're officially in fall. And that is going to make it harder to hold activities outdoors. As people come inside more and the flu season ramps up, we need Hoosiers to be more vigilant about hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks. I know you're tired of wearing masks and staying apart. We all have pandemic fatigue. But I keep hearing about the cases that could have been prevented, if we had just taken the simple precautions," Box said.
Indiana has seen a surge in cases and hospitalizations in the past two weeks. The seven-day daily average of cases is at a record 1,131. The state reported 30 deaths on Tuesday, the highest number since May 23. Statewide hospitalizations (1,138) also rose to their highest levels since late May. The five county Northwest Indiana region is also at its highest daily case average ever (133).
On Tuesday, the Chicago Department of Public Health announced that Indiana could soon be added to the list of states and territories covered by the city's emergency travel order, which requires people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from COVID-19 hotspots.
CDPH said Indiana is now averaging more than 15 cases per day per 100,000 population, the threshold to be added to the city's travel quarantine order. If Indiana doesn't get its daily case average under 15 by next week, it will be added to the list.
CDPH Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said Indiana isn't being added to the list right away, despite being above the city's threshold for cases, to give people time to plan ahead.
"For the states that that border us – whether that's Wisconsin, Indiana – we have made it a practice all along that if we see one of the states go above our cutoff for quarantine, we do give an announcement the week prior to give people a chance to potentially plan," she said. "Also because we have sometimes managed to see states kind of turn that around fairly quickly and we would prefer not to disrupt travel unnecessarily."
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