By Leah Sander
INDIANAPOLIS — The federal government is anticipating the first doses of a COVID-19 vaccine could come next month.
That news came from Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at Gov. Eric Holcomb’s weekly press conference on the virus.
Box herself was back in person at the conference after her own COVID-19 bout. She and several family members had mild cases of it, but have all since recovered.
Box said it looks like initial doses of a vaccine by Pfizer could come in mid-November. That vaccine would need to be administered in two doses. Another vaccine by Moderna could come in December.
She emphasized the FDA has not approved either vaccine yet. Also, she said the vaccines would not be available to everyone for quite some time.
Box also commented on the rising case numbers in the state. The positivity rate among those tested is at 7.1% as of Oct. 28, up from 3.9% as of Sept. 16.
She said 1,169 people were hospitalized Tuesday, Oct. 27, for COVID-19, which is the highest rate since the start of the pandemic. She said about 70% of the people hospitalized this month were age 60 or older.
Three counties in the state are red or seeing a testing positivity rate in the last seven days of 15% or more. Those are Fayette, Dearborn and Ohio.
Two of those counties have been in red for two weeks in a row. Box said the state health department is working closely with those counties to help slow the spread. She noted those counties’ health departments have been in close contact with school superintendents and county officials on the issue.
Box did note gatherings of people seem to be the cause for the uptick in cases in the state. Those aren’t necessarily large ones, but ones that are more personal where people let their guard down.
Box did note testing capacity for the virus is at the highest rate it’s ever been.
Indiana National Guard Adjutant Gen. Brig. Gen. R. Dale Lyles also spoke on the Guard’s being mobilized to help long-term care facilities in the state.
As announced at the governor’s press conference on Oct. 21, the Guard is going out to the facilities to help with infection control, entering data and more to relieve workers there. All Guard members are to be tested for COVID-19 before entering the facilities and receive regular testing afterwards. They also will be professionally trained before going out and overseen by the state health department and Guard medical professionals.
The Guard will start to be in facilities on Monday, Nov. 2, and be 1,350 strong in all 534 facilities by mid-November.