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Health officials raise alarm about overwhelmed hospitals ahead of anticipated omicron surge

Lauren Chapman / IPB News

State health officials are raising the alarm about Indiana’s overwhelmed hospitals. 

Dr. Lindsay Weaver is the chief medical officer for the Indiana Department of Health. She said the surge is driven by both new COVID-19 hospitalizations and Hoosiers who had to delay care because of the pandemic.

“Our current total hospital census is currently at the highest it has been in five years. And we’re over 1,500 patients higher than our peak last year,” Weaver said.

READ MORE: Is Indiana ready for omicron COVID-19 cases? Expert says yes – if Hoosiers get vaccinated

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The state’s COVID-19 hospital census had not surpassed 3,000 in 2021 until Dec. 13.

Weaver said the best way to help health care workers is to get vaccinated – more than 80 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations are unvaccinated Hoosiers. She said prior infection isn’t enough.

“Previous infections may only provide 19 percent protection against omicron variant,” Weaver said. “Bottom line: don’t rely on natural immunity to protect you.”

Weaver also said Hoosiers should not go to emergency rooms seeking COVID-19 testing. 

There is a shortage of rapid tests in the state, but PCR tests – which require a longer wait for results, but are very accurate – are still available at testing sites.

Contact Lauren at or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.