The Delta variant of the coronavirus is till the dominant variant in Indiana. But, state health commissioner Dr. Kris Box said in a COVID update Wednesday afternoon that she expects that to change soon, and that the Omicron variant will likely become what is causing the most infections.
The surge that has been happening since early November has caused the state’s health systems to be overwhelmed and the Indiana National Guard is helping, said Box. The state’s hospitals have more patients than anytime in the past five years.
“Omicron is very easily transmitted and infects and multiplies 70 times faster in the major airways of the lungs of an infected individual,” said Box. “So, people infected with Omicron have a lot more virus in their throats, waiting to be expelled when the exhale or cough or sneeze.”
Box and Holcomb continue to push for more Hoosiers to get the vaccine. Right now about 54 percent of Hoosiers have gotten both shots and about 1.3 million people have gotten the booster in Indiana.
Box said that the state’s health care workforce is depleted both physically and mentally, but that help from the National Guard has already been deployed. Those teams can help for two weeks, with two-week extensions, and are doiing so in about a dozen hospitals across the state.
The briefing included no mandates, but Holcomb did say he is extending his emergency health order to help the state be assured federal resources.
He also addressed comments made recently by Indiana Atty. Gen. Todd Rokita, who said he did not believe the data and the numbers gathered and published on hospitalizations and COVID numbers.
“Folks should have a high level of confidence the data the state of Indiana puts out is accurate,” said the governor at the outset of the news conference. “If I have erred, if we have erred, we’ll own it. We’ll admit to it. We’ll fix it and we’ll move on.”
Later in the news conference, Holcomb directly addressed Rokita’s remark.
“If there is a thread of evidence he needs to take that to the state’s inspector general,” he said.