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Southern Indiana health officials expect omicron to peak soon

Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said he expects a steep peak followed by a rapid, and identifiable, decline.

FLOYD COUNTY, Ind. — Health officials in Clark and Floyd counties are preparing for the peak of the omicron variant in southern Indiana. 

Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said he expects the variant to peak in the next few days. He said COVID-19 typically follows patterns, which is informing his predictions.

“More so than some other variants that we’ve seen, because it does look like the decline with omicron is rapid just like the peak, and so I think we’ll see a rapid drop off that is easily identifiable after a few days,” he said.

Last week, the state of Indiana reported a nearly 30% positivity rate, and more than 3,500 people were hospitalized with the virus. 

At Baptist Health Floyd, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Emily Volk said they're anxiously waiting on the peak. 

"We can't wait. Our doctors are exhausted, our nurses are exhausted," she said. "We hope we're nearing the peak, all data would suggest we're getting very close to peaking and that we'll see a downturn."

Hospitalizations in Indiana have trended upwards since mid-December. 

"Patients who have to have a machine breathe for them, the vast majority of those patients are unvaccinated," Volk said.

Volk said the hospital is managing, but the surge is comparable to other waves, in terms of the impact on the hospital system. The highly infectious omicron variant is impacting staffing, though. 

"It's so infectious that we have seen it not only impact our patients out in the community but it is also impacting our staff," she said. "Of course, we don't want them coming into work and infecting patients who aren't already sick."

RELATED: Here's how to get four free COVID tests starting Wednesday

With tests in short supply, Volk said if you can find an at-home test, you should take steps to use it carefully.

"Don't start swabbing the minute you open the package, take a minute to read the instructions," she said.

Yazel said if you can't find one of those tests, you should still get a PCR test. 

"Don’t come to work sick," Yazel said. "That’s the thing more than anything, is if you don’t well, even if you’re having trouble getting tested, stay home and wait until your symptoms get better before you go back to work.”

Yazel also said people should not come to the hospital to get regular testing. 

Volk added testing is only one tool in getting through the pandemic. She said it's still important to consider masking, limiting gatherings and following CDC guidelines

She said she understands changes to those guidelines can be confusing, but they're evolving just like the pandemic. 

"Take a minute to find the situation that applies to you and your family members and I think you'll find good information there," she said. 

Contact reporter Grace McKenna at gmckenna@whas11.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

    

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