INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana reported 51 more coronavirus-related deaths on Tuesday, including three more in La Porte County, as the state’s new coronavirus infections topped 2,000 for the sixth straight day and its COVID-19 hospitalizations remained at the highest level since April.
The new deaths, which occurred over several days, raised Indiana’s pandemic toll to 4,194, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus infections, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
The three latest deaths reported in La Porte County bring the local toll to 64.
Indiana reached a seven-day rolling average of 26 daily deaths last Wednesday. That’s nearly three times the average one month prior and the highest level since May.
The health department also reported Tuesday that another 2,062 Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, the sixth straight day Indiana has reported more than 2,000 new cases. Indiana’s average daily number of new confirmed COVD-19 cases reached 2,282 as of Monday. That is up about 166 percent from a month ago and has continued rising to the highest level the state has seen during the pandemic.
There were 22 new cases reported in La Porte County, where the total is now 2,414 confirmed cases. The county’s 7-day positivity rate was 11.8 percent for unique individuals tested, and 8.3 percent for all tests reported.
Indiana’s 1,687 coronavirus hospitalizations as of Monday marked the state’s most since mid-April and about double the number of hospitalizations reported in late September.
Gov. Eric Holcomb has resisted calls for reinstating coronavirus restrictions since lifting most limits last month – just as the state started recording sharp increases in hospitalizations and new infections.
Holcomb announced last week new steps toward fighting outbreaks in nursing homes, whose residents have accounted for about 55 percent of Indiana’s deaths.
State health officials also released a first look at Indiana’s plan for distributing a COVID-19 vaccine, whenever one becomes available. The ISDH indicates that a phased approach will be used to dole out the vaccine.
Healthcare workers will be the first to get inoculated. That group includes employees at hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient facilities and pharmacies, as well as emergency medical service providers and anyone working with COVID-19 diagnostic and immunization teams.
Vulnerable groups, such as people 65 years or older, and those with underlying health conditions, will follow.
The next phase of Indiana’s plan focuses on mitigating the virus’ spread by vaccinating people who can’t work from home, including teachers, food service workers, firefighters and police officers.
In the third phase, health officials anticipate distributing the vaccine publicly to all other Hoosiers. The timeline for doing so, however, remains unclear.
All states were required to submit similar draft distribution plans to the CDC.
A vaccine has not yet been approved by the FDA.
In Indiana, drugmaker Eli Lilly continues to back a potential COVID-19 treatment despite research showing it may not work on hospitalized patients.
The drugmaker said Tuesday it remains confident that its drug may stop COVID from developing in other patients. Researchers are still studying the drug in mild to moderately ill patients to try to prevent hospitalization and severe illness.
The potential treatment also is being studied as a preventive measure given to residents and employees of long-term care locations.
U.S. government officials said Monday they put an early end to a study testing the antibody drug in hospitalized patients because it doesn’t seem to be helping them.
Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection occurs; they attach to a virus and help it be eliminated.
Lilly Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Daniel Skovronsky told analysts Tuesday morning that while that news was disappointing, they don’t expect it to affect their treatment’s chances of success in the other potential uses.
The company has asked U.S. regulators to allow emergency use for two of its potential COVID-19 treatments. It said a few weeks ago that early results from a study suggested that one of them reduced symptoms, hospitalizations and ER visits for patients with mild or moderate COVID-19.
The drug is similar to one that President Donald Trump received from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals when he was treated earlier this month for COVID-19. These medicines supply concentrated versions of specific antibodies to help the immune system clear the coronavirus.