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Indiana reports 15K+ new confirmed COVID-19 cases. Experts say it’s omicron’s effect on state

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Lauren Chapman
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The Indiana Department of Health added 15,277 new confirmed COVID-19 cases Thursday, pushing the state's total beyond 1.3 million. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

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The Indiana Department of Health added 15,277 new confirmed COVID-19 cases to the state’s total, pushing it beyond 1.3 million confirmed for the entire pandemic. That 15,000 is more than 80 percent higher than winter 2020’s peak, and experts say this is omicron’s effect on the state.

Micah Pollak is an associate professor of economics at Indiana University Northwest. He said, based on how quickly cases have climbed, it’s safe to say it’s omicron. 

“And you know, the rate that we’re seeing cases increase statewide now, it definitely suggests that it’s majority omicron,” he said.

READ MORE: Is Indiana ready for omicron COVID-19 cases? Expert says yes – if Hoosiers get vaccinated

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Indiana reported its first case of omicron on Dec. 19, from a sampled test that was positive on Dec. 9. It was one of the last states to report its first case.

“By the time you’ve seen the majority of cases be omicron, they’re pretty much all omicron. Because you can go from 50 percent of cases omicron to 100 percent in a couple of days,” Pollak said.

The IDOH sampling dashboard reported less than 1 percent of cases were omicron Wednesday. With the update Thursday, that’s jumped to more than 15 percent. 

“And part of that is just it takes a long time to sample, to sequence the samples,” Pollak said. “And when you’re dealing with omicron time, that’s so, so much time that you’re not going to get a good snapshot of what’s going on.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say it anticipates breakthrough cases from the COVID-19 variant, but data from Europe and South Africa still suggests that vaccines are effective at preventing hospitalizations and death. 

IDOH said data out of South Africa and the United Kingdom shows – specifically for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – two doses provide about 35 percent protection against the omicron variant, but a booster dose increases that to 75 percent.

Indiana has reported more than 80,000 new cases in the last week.

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