This morning, Hancock Regional Hospital had only three inpatients with a coronavirus infection. Just six weeks ago, we were averaging eight times this number. Yesterday, only 21 new cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in Hancock County and the numbers of people arriving for COVID testing has declined to levels not seen since early November. The number of patients requiring monoclonal antibody infusions has fallen to an average of less than 10 per day and the total number of infusions given over the last few months is nearing 600, a figure that rivals the largest health systems in the state. Hancock Health reached 10,000 vaccinations today and all sites in the county combine for more than 11,000 first doses and nearly 4,500 second doses. Clearly, the trends in Hancock County continue to move in the right direction!
The question on everyone’s mind is whether these trends will continue toward the inevitable winding down of the pandemic, or if we are in for a surprise? There are those predicting a “third surge” of infections associated with the spread of the new variants of the virus. There are others who say that between all the people who have had the disease, and the growing roles of the fully vaccinated, we may have already hit herd immunity. The truth is likely in the middle. We know the new variants are in our state, but continued safety precautions such as avoiding gatherings, wearing masks, and practicing hand hygiene are effective against them. Testing is readily available and early detection leads to early intervention with monoclonal antibody infusions and reduced hospitalization rates. Continued high rates of vaccination and access to even more vaccine in the coming weeks and months should hasten herd immunity.
The timing of the end of the pandemic is truly in our hands. If we continue to be careful (washing hands, wearing masks, watching our distance) and we embrace the vaccine, I think Indiana and Hancock County can avoid another surge and bring the pandemic to a close this year, but it really is up to us…