Indiana Reports 106 Percent Increase in COVID Hospitalizations Compared to November

Indiana hospitals are seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases as Governor Eric Holcomb maintains that it is not up to the state to impose vaccine mandates, only to provide vaccinations and other resources.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, hospitals in the state were treating about 2,500 patients with the virus as of Sunday, a 106 percent increase since last month. Indiana's hospitalization count is approaching pre-vaccine levels.

Indiana Hospital Association President Brian Tabor said this increase comes at a bad time as hospitals are anticipating flu outbreaks, but COVID-19 patients are taking up all the resources health care professionals have.

"We've just got to continue to message, not just the state but all of us, I think individually, to our friends, neighbors, everyone who is shown some hesitancy to get vaccinated," Tabor said. "The time is now and it's not just about contracting COVID, it's about making sure that there's a hospital bed for you or your loved one, no matter what."

Despite Indiana averaging 25 COVID-19 deaths per day this month and the state being the 11th least-vaccinated in the country, Holcomb, who himself is fully vaccinated, opposes vaccine mandates.

"It is, though, largely a pandemic of the unvaccinated and at some point, and we're there, individuals need to take responsibility for their lives," Holcomb told the Associated Press. "Unfortunately, their inactions have adverse consequences to others."

Indiana, ICU, COVID-19
Indiana has seen a 106 percent increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations since November. Above, healthcare workers prepare their PPE before entering a negative pressure room to tend to a patient on a ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit of Baptist Health Floyd on September 7 in New Albany, Indiana. Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Many members of the Republican-dominated Indiana Legislature are set for a second year to push measures handcuffing anti-virus efforts—this time a bill forcing businesses to grant broad exemptions from workplace vaccination requirements that could be voted upon soon after the new legislative session starts in early January.

Holcomb is looking for lawmakers to approve administrative steps that he said would allow him to end Indiana's COVID-19 public health emergency, which he first declared in March 2020, despite many health experts arguing now is not the time.

Holcomb recalled during a Statehouse interview about a woman telling him that she was glad he opposed President Joe Biden's proposed vaccination mandates on large businesses, but also that she was disappointed Holcomb had received the COVID-19 vaccine because "I had a chip in me now."

"We deal with the absurd and we deal with facts and there's a lot in between there for people to form their own opinions," Holcomb told the Associated Press. "What I have to do is try to be persuasive enough so that folks understand that they're going to learn it the easy way or the hard way, unfortunately, by being vaccinated or not."

Holcomb received his first COVID-19 shot in March as a mass vaccination clinic opened at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and received a booster shot on November 2. He has consistently encouraged vaccinations but has stepped back from highlighting state actions since ending his regular coronavirus news briefings in March.

Indiana has the country's 11th lowest rate for fully vaccinated population at 51 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nine rural counties scattered around the state have vaccination rates below 40 percent.

Indiana's pandemic death toll has topped 17,700. Health experts were worried about fresh infection surges as people spend more time indoors even before identification of the omicron variant sparked new worldwide concerns.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Eric Holcomb, Indiana, governor
With Indiana's COVID-19 hospitalizations doubling in the past month amid the latest surge, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb expressed frustration Tuesday with "absurd" reasons some have for refusing vaccinations although he isn't offering any new state actions to combat the virus spread. Above, Holcomb speaks during an interview at the Statehouse on December 7, in Indianapolis. Darron Cummings/AP Photo