COVID cases rise, omicron poses questions for researchers


After a temporary plateau in COVID-19 cases, Indiana has seen an uptick in recent weeks as concerns about the new omicron variant grow.

On Oct. 23, the Indiana State Dept. of Health reported the state’s seven-day moving case average was 1,591 cases. One month later, on Nov. 23, the seven-day moving average had more than doubled to 3,206 cases, according to the ISDH, and the effects were being felt by local health care networks. The ISDH reported 2,012 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 in Indiana hospitals, as of Nov. 28.

Dr. Rocky Singh, chief medical officer for IU Health’s Indianapolis Suburban Region, said hospitalizations have increased across IU Health’s hospital system. 

“Hospitalizations per 100,000 residents have increased to 24 per 100,000 residents, which is a 30 percent increase in the state of Indiana,” Singh said Nov. 30.

As of the morning of Nov. 30, Singh reported IU Health had 328 COVID-19 patients across its hospital system. At the peak of the pandemic, IU Health had more than 500 patients in its hospitals.

“We are seeing some hot spots across IU Health’s system, especially our downtown hospital, (IU Health Methodist Hospital), has 77 COVID patients by itself, so there have been some spikes,” Singh said.

Recently, a new variant, omicron, has been detected. The variant was labeled a “variant of concern” that posed a “very high” global risk. The variant has been identified in the United States and many other countries.

Singh, who encourages vaccinations, said it will take researchers time to figure out what threat the variant poses. He said transmissibility hasn’t been determined and it is unknown if it could cause more deaths or breakthrough cases.

On Saturdays in December, IU Health North Hospital retail pharmacy, 11700 N. Meridian St. B106, in Carmel, will offer a walk-in vaccination clinic where pediatric doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine will be available from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The clinic will not be open Christmas Day.