CHICAGO (CBS) — A dire warning has been issued about COVID-19 in Northwest Indiana.

Statewide in Indiana, 7,967 positive COVID-19 cases have been reported since Tuesday. That is the most in Indiana since December of last year.

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According to the new data, Lake County, Indiana is seeing a report of 593 daily cases, compared to 588 in 2020.

Earlier Wednesday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb held his first statewide COVID briefing in months. As CBS 2’s Marissa Parra reported, Holcomb did not announce any new restrictions, but an extension of the state’s public health emergency – along with a dire plea.

“The safest, surest, and swiftest way to get through this as an individual, state, and country is to get vaccinated,” Holcomb said.

Just over half of eligible Hoosiers have been vaccinated against COVID-19. But the entire Hoosier State is now under the two highest COVID advisory levels.

Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations now mirror the peak they saw during the holidays last year.

“Our COVID-19 hospital census is at the highest level in an entire year,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box. “The number of people hospitalized with COVID has increased more than 700 percent since late June.”

The state’s COVID update came almost two weeks after Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita questioned the data the state was putting out in a Dec. 17 interview with CBS affiliate WSBT-TV 22, South Bend.

“I don’t believe any numbers anymore, and I’m sorry about that,” Rokita said. “But they’re politicized. This has been politicized since day one.”

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Gov. Holcomb came swinging in response.

“I will say that I was stunned and somewhat blindsided by the AG when he said he didn’t trust any information,” Holcomb said. “It’s quite serious when you accuse or insinuate anyone of inflating numbers. In my book, that’s called fraud – and if there’s a shred of evidence, he or others need to take that to the Inspector General of the State of Indiana.”

ICU capacity in Indiana is also dwindling, with only 9.2 percent available according to state data on Wednesday night. However, 50 percent of the ICU cases are non-COVID related.

“We actually have is just a ton of other patients in the hospital for non-covid reasons,” said frontline worker Dr. Gabriel Bosslet, who works in critical care at IU Health. “When you have people starting to live their lives again since lockdown last year, they get things like pneumonia and into accidents in addition to COVID.”

As cases see a sharp rise, health care workers like Dr. Bosslet fear that will translate into a further strain on a hospital system that is already depleted and exhausted.

“The comments by the Attorney General just make me sad,” Bosslet said. “What we need now is healthcare providers to be supported. When we’re in the hospital, the work is more intense. The average number of patients in Indiana hospitals across the state is usually around 10,000 and we’re at 14,000 – which is well above what we’re used to caring for right now.”

Professor Micah Pollak, who has been crunching COVID numbers in the state from the start, points out this affects you at home too.

“We have a crisis in our hospitals right now, and regardless of how you feel about covid, this is a problem that’s going to affect everyone,” Pollak said. “If you have a heart attack, break your arm, get into a car accident, there simply isn’t enough ICU beds for you.”

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Also addressed in the briefing Wednesday was the shortage of COVID-19 rapid tests. The state revealed it is looking into “other sources” and is not ruling out federal aid.

Source: CBS Chicago

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