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‘It could be catastrophic’ | Indiana Chamber, Indiana Hospital Association push for more testing, vaccines to avoid shutdown

The strain on the health care system is having severe business and economic consequences, according to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Hospital Association put out a renewed plea for Hoosiers to get vaccinated ahead of the omicron variant so hospitals and businesses can continue to operate without a shutdown.

“We have never had this many total patients in our hospitals, and we will soon match or surpass the greatest number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic,” said IHA President Brian Tabor. “Serious staffing shortages persist throughout the health care system, and our capacity is extremely strained. The vast majority of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 in Indiana are unvaccinated.”

Hospitals are also trying to make sure outbreaks among workers don’t occur.

“As these waves overlap potential, it could be catastrophic,” said Tabor. “It could overwhelm the system, and if we have to have health care workers quarantined or unable to work, it’s kind of catastrophic scenario.”

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The strain on the health care system is having severe business and economic consequences, according to the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

“It has become increasingly clear that a vaccinated workforce is absolutely vital to Indiana’s future economic health,” asserted Indiana Chamber President Kevin Brinegar. “Many Hoosier businesses can’t afford to have another COVID outbreak or temporarily close. Everyone has been through a lot the past two years, and we all want the pandemic to be behind us, but that is simply not the case yet. We have to remain vigilant and work together to ensure workplaces are as safe and virus-free as possible and remain in operation.”

Brinegar said the shortage of workers is impacting the supply chain and contributing to the rising inflation.

At this time, he said the chamber does not support federal vaccine mandates and believes it should be the employer's choice.

“We have to remain vigilant and work together to ensure workplaces are as safe and virus-free as possible,” Brinegar said.

Now, it is easier for Hoosier businesses to do so.

In partnership with Franciscan Health Immunization Department, the Indiana Chamber is offering free Pfizer vaccine clinics throughout the state. Both the initial vaccine and boosters are available.

To qualify, a business must have at least 15 employees looking to get the shot. This can be workers, family members or two smaller businesses combined. If there aren’t 15 people, there is a $50 travel fee.

This four-part series is presented in cooperation with the Indiana Department of Health, Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission. The Indiana Chamber and Wellness Council of Indiana is celebrating employers that are leading the fight against this virus and encouraging more Hoosier workplaces to join their ranks.

With testing availability being scarce, the chamber is also increasing accessibility for Hoosiers by securing a vendor pipeline via Patients Choice Laboratories.

If a business is facing an outbreak and testing of employees is needed, the lab will send PCR test kits to employers anywhere in the state with instructions on how to do the collection. The lab will then pick up the test and analyze them in 24 hours.

Those in central Indiana also have the option of going to a facility on the northwest side of Indianapolis for curbside testing.

“With at-home rapid tests in such scarce supply, this is a viable and available alternative to help stem the spread of the virus,” Brinegar said. “Patients Choice Laboratories has capacity. They have told us they can process thousands more tests a day than what they are doing currently.”

For more information about on-site vaccine clinics and testing, click here.