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Masks are required for all staff and students in the Gary Community School Corp

Indiana issues new rules for hospitals and schools as delta variant surges

Contributed By:The 411 News

Hospital elective procedures may be delayed, quarantine measures revised

On the heels of his COVID-19 executive orders issued a week ago, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday, September 1 Executive Order 21-24, a new order affecting hospitals and schools.

Surging cases of the delta variant, called the most infectious of COVID-19 strains, is stressing hospitals and their abilities to care for patients Gov. Holcomb said. The surge comes at a time as schools reopen with increasing community spread among the unvaccinated.

A vaccine for children under 12 is not yet available and Indiana’s vaccination numbers for the 12-18 school age population are very low. According to the Indiana Dept. of Health, as of September 1, only 28% of children ages 12-15 have been fully vaccinated.

In the 16-19 age group, 38 percent are fully vaccinated.

Statewide, daily hospitalizations due to COVID-19 went from 417 on July 1 to 2,366 on September 1.

As more hospital doctors, nurses, staffs, beds, and intensive care units are being devoted to COVID cases, the executive order requires hospitals to consider delaying or postponing non-emergency elective procedures.

Wednesday’s order is not mandatory for all state healthcare systems as it was in April 2020 when all hospital elective procedures statewide came to a halt.

Health care systems are asked to monitor staffing levels and patient capacities, and follow best practices recommended by their respective medical associations and industries when delaying or postponing elective procedures.

Hospitals must report diversion information to the IDOH to assist with monitoring resources and capacity statewide. When a hospital is full, it can direct emergency services operators and ambulances to use another facility.

The executive order requires hospitals to report the number of hours spent in diversion each day. The facility must also report the number of available beds, ICU beds, pediatric beds, pediatric ICU beds, and ventilator availability daily.

The measure will allow for schools and day cares to modify quarantine provisions if the facilities adhere to orders and guidance set by IDOH.

Quarantine rules for K-12 schools and day cares are decreasing if the school has required mask wearing for all staff and students throughout the school day.

In Lake County, the Gary Community School Corporation, the School City of Hammond, and the East Chicago Public School Corporation are among the few that mandated mask wearing for everyone since the start of the school year in August. The school districts do not have to quarantine students, teachers and staff who are close contacts of an individual with COVID-19 and aren’t showing symptoms of COVID-19.

For the districts that made mask wearing optional, quarantines and testing remain for those who test positive for COVID-19 and their close contacts. Recently in the news is the Crown Point school district with 900 students in quarantine. Mask mandates are being approved for more and more school districts.

Schools and day cares must continue to contact trace by notifying their local health department as well as parents, teachers and staff who were in close contact.

Executive Order 21-24 will expire Sept. 30, 2021.

Story Posted:09/02/2021

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