squirrelheader.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Indiana reports first case of COVID-19 variant omicron

The Indiana Department of Health reported its first case of the COVID-19 variant omicron Sunday. Indiana was one of seven remaining states yet to detect the variant.

IDOH said in a news release the person who tested positive for the omicron variant was unvaccinated, and tested positive on Dec. 9. The COVID-19 strain has caused a rapid increase in cases throughout Europe, and was labeled a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization on Nov. 26.

Indiana’s recent increase in new cases is not due to omicron – 99 percent of sampled tests in the state are still the delta variant. The state has reported 30,714 new cases and added 357 deaths to its total in just the last week.

Based on positive cases, the positivity rate of those getting tested, and accounting for asymptomatic cases with data from the state and Regenstrief Institute, epidemiologists estimate 1 in 10 Hoosiers are currently infected with COVID-19.

Hospitalizations have already been on the rise due to the state’s current wave of new cases. More than 3,000 Hoosiers are currently hospitalized due to COVID-19. IU Health requested assistance from the Indiana National Guard to help with staffing ICU beds during this surge.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said in a press release omicron underscores the importance of getting vaccinated.

“COVID-19 cases are on the rise across Indiana, and we do not want this variant to increase the burden on our already stressed health care system,” Box said. “While we are still learning about omicron, we already have the tools and knowledge we need to protect ourselves and the people we love from COVID-19.”

Box also encouraged wearing a mask, frequent handwashing, and getting a booster, if eligible.

READ MORE: Omicron could bring the worst surge of COVID yet in the U.S. — and fast

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on COVID-19 and other statewide issues.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says vaccines are still expected to prevent severe illness, hospitalizations and death from the omicron variant. But it does anticipate breakthrough cases.

Early modeling from the CDC suggests – in the worst case scenario – the U.S. could report as many as 500,000 new cases per day by the end of January.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

Copyright 2021 Indiana Public Media. To see more, visit .