INDIANAPOLIS — Despite the introduction of effective vaccines and new knowledge about the COVID-19 virus, reported daily cases and positivity rates remain about the same as one year ago due to low vaccination rates.
“We have given Hoosiers the tools that they need, the information, the education (and) the ability to get vaccinated,” said Kris Box, the state health commissioner. “We have provided that over and over and over again. So we believe that it comes down to personal responsibility for Hoosiers across the state to make those decisions for themselves and their own communities.”
The Delta variant reportedly spreads twice as easily as the initial coronavirus strain, similar to the measles or chicken pox, and has higher viral loads, making it more transmissible.
“I hope that as people see these cases go up with the Delta variant and see more effects … I truly believe we’ll see an increase in vaccination rates,” Box said, noting that hospitalizations now trend younger since older Hoosiers have higher vaccination rates.
While the vaccines protect nearly all Hoosiers from hospitalization or death from the virus, some may still have mild symptoms or carry the virus to others — putting the immunocompromised and children too young to be vaccinated at risk.
Nearly all breakthrough cases happen to Hoosiers over the age of 65, because the immune system's efficacy decreases with age.
“We always knew that our immune system above 60-65 doesn’t work as well … and that’s why we need to layer protection with them,” Box said, suggesting that families visiting loved ones in nursing homes mask up even if everyone is vaccinated.
Still, Box said the state wouldn’t mandate masks in schools and would leave that decision to local school districts. Masks remain one of the most effective ways to limit the spread of the virus, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended earlier this week that schoolchildren mask up to prevent the spread of the virus.
“I don’t think there was ever any intent to mislead anyone (about masks),” Box said about the new recommendation to mask up again. “Nor do I think that we’re here to say you need to mask up for the rest of your lives.”
Still, Hoosiers shouldn’t expect capacity limits or other restrictions to return.
“There’s been no discussion about doing any type of restrictions with the number of people that can be in certain spaces,” Box said.
According to the state, Clark County had 28 and Floyd County 11 new cases of COVID-19 as of Friday. Each county reported one new death.
Statewide, there were 1,461 new cases reported Friday and six deaths.