Indiana reports 96 more COVID-19 deaths

By The Associated Press

Another 96 Indiana residents have died from COVID-19, pushing the state’s pandemic death toll past 6,600, state health officials said Thursday.

The newly confirmed deaths, which occurred over several days, raised Indiana’s toll to 6,603, including both confirmed and presumed infections, the Indiana State Department of Health said.

The state agency also reported that another 6,604 Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, increasing number of Indiana residents known to have had the novel coronavirus to 404,935.

The department’s daily statistics update also shows that 3,221 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday at Indiana’s hospitals.

Indiana’s hospitals will have to postpone elective surgeries starting next week to free up hospital capacity under an order Gov. Eric Holcomb issued Wednesday in light of the state's recent steep increases in serious COVID-19 illnesses.

Indiana’s hospitals are currently treating more than quadruple the number of COVID-19 patients that were under care in late September, when the state’s recent steep increase in hospitalizations and deaths began.

Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations reached a peak of 3,460 on Nov. 30, but health officials across the state remain worried about hospitals being overwhelmed by severely ill patients.

Despite those concerns, Marion County's public health director announced Thursday that students in the county that's home to Indianapolis can return to school starting Jan. 4 — two weeks earlier than under an earlier public health order.

Dr. Virginia Caine had previously ordered that after the Thanksgiving holiday schools should remain closed and deliver instruction to students remotely until Jan. 18.

Caine said new data and changes in guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention prompted the change, The Indianapolis Star reported. She said the latest data shows that even while the county has seen large increases in the number of coronavirus cases occurring in school-age children — particularly those in high school — those numbers aren’t large enough to be contributing significantly to the county’s coronavirus positivity rate.

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