Gov. Eric Holcomb is temporarily suspending all non-emergency, inpatient surgeries at Indiana hospitals after proclaiming Wednesday the Hoosier State "is on fire" with COVID-19 cases.

The Republican chief executive said with more than 3,200 Hoosiers currently hospitalized for COVID-19, and approximately 400 more seeking hospital treatment every single day, hospital resources must be redirected from other procedures to meet the COVID-19 demand.

As a result, he said hospitals are prohibited from performing non-emergency, inpatient surgeries from Dec. 16 through Jan. 3 in an effort to both free up intensive care beds for individuals with COVID-19 and allow surgical health care workers to relieve or supplement providers serving COVID-19 patients.

"Our nurses and doctors and assistants, understandably, are overwhelmed and beyond exhausted," Holcomb said.

"They are trying to recharge their batteries maybe one day a week to go into one of the toughest environments that anyone in our state's history has had to endure on a day-in, day-out basis — all on behalf of trying to make other people better."

The governor's surgery suspension directive, which has not yet been released in written form, does not apply to outpatient surgeries, also known as same-day surgeries, performed outside a hospital setting.

Nevertheless, Holcomb recommended Hoosiers with a serious medical condition "should go see your doctor now" if there's a chance inpatient surgery may be required in the near future or a planned inpatient surgery needs to be rescheduled.

Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, said she agreed with the governor the surgery suspension is "absolutely necessary as the pandemic tightens its grip on our state."

"This surge is far from over," Box said. "Beds are in short supply at many hospitals and many have had to redirect patients to other facilities, known as 'going on diversion,' because they don't have the space or the staffing to manage this increasing number of patients."

According to Indiana State Department of Health, 36 of Indiana's 92 counties are at the highest-possible "red" level of infection, including Lake, Newton and Jasper counties.

The rest of the state, including Porter and LaPorte counties, is one notch lower in the "orange" class. No counties are "yellow" or "blue."

However, Box noted when you look only at the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents, all 92 counties are red, meaning more than 200 cases per 100,000 residents. Only two counties are even below 400 cases per 100,000; seven are over 1,000 cases per 100,000.

"This represents a huge number of infected and sick Hoosiers, all of whom will infect others," Box said.
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