INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana health officials declined Wednesday to provide details on hospital capacity around the state as its number of confirmed coronavirus-related illnesses continued to grow quickly and two more deaths were reported. The new deaths in Hancock and Howard counties were the first ones in each county, giving Indiana 14 total deaths as a statewide stay-at-home order took effect Wednesday aimed at slowing spread of the virus. A roundup of what’s happening statewide:
Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, cited confidentiality arrangements with hospitals for not releasing details about intensive care unit capacity and equipment availability around the state. She said she’s seeing “positive movements” in availability of ICU beds and ventilators.
“Because everybody is stepping up to the plate and trying to pretty much double their ICU capacity, I’m seeing those numbers increase as we go along,” Box said.
In contrast, Illinois officials have provided updates such as the number of occupied hospital beds and ventilators in use around the state and projections on what medical services will be needed if the virus outbreak isn’t contained.
Box said the state health department received several truckloads of medical worker protection items such as masks, face shields and gowns this week and was distributing it to hospitals and county health officials.
When asked whether the state had a two-week supply of such items available, Box replied: “We are better off than that, I can guarantee you. I’ve got many hospitals and local health departments that haven’t even yet asked for their allotment.”
Indiana had nearly 54,000 people file for unemployment benefits last week — a 23-fold increase from the week before — as factories, restaurants, hotels and other businesses began to close. Those now-unemployed people alone represent a 50% jump in the state’s jobless total in January.
More than 10,000 Indianapolis residents submitted unemployment claims last week, according to the state Department of Workforce Development. At least 11 other counties had more than 1,000 people submit claims.
Holcomb has encouraged anyone losing their job to quickly apply online for unemployment benefits. On Wednesday, he touted that Indiana had a record number of people employed before the pandemic’s impact hit and said he confident the state’s economy will bounce back.
“Our fundamentals were sound going into this,” Holcomb said. “This is a virus that we’re dealing with, this is not our economy that is pulling us back or dragging us down.”