Omicron variant sends COVID-19 positivity rate soaring
Jan. 14, 2022 -- Federal health officials have warned the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is highly contagious, more so than Delta or any other previous variant. Evidence of just how easily Omicron spreads can be found in the recent positivity rates for tests done at Reid Health.
Omicron was first detected in South Africa in November, made its way to the United States in the weeks that followed, and eventually was found in Indiana for the first time the weekend before Christmas.
That timeline is reflected in the positivity rates for COVID-19 tests performed by Reid for those months:
- November: 11.1%
- December: 16.4%
- January: 30%
And the numbers continue to climb. This week alone, the positivity rate for tests conducted by Reid has been 39.9%.
Although evidence suggests Omicron is generally milder than the Delta variant, a portion of these cases will lead to hospitalizations at a time when health systems - including Reid Health - are already overwhelmed and in a state of emergency.
The ease with which Omicron spreads comes in part thanks to its ability to at least somewhat evade immunity brought on by a prior infection or the vaccines. Data has shown a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna greatly increases the vaccine's effectiveness against Omicron infection, going from about 35% to about 75%.
The vaccines continue to perform very well in protecting against severe illness, including hospitalization and death.
For that reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly encourage COVID-19 vaccination for everyone 5 and older and booster shots for everyone 12 and older. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and FREE.
Although the vaccines are the most important layer of protection, even if you're up to date on your shots, there are other things you should be doing to help reduce the spread of the virus:
- Wear a well-fitting mask over your nose and mouth in indoor public settings and crowded outdoor areas,
- Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated areas,
- Stay at least six feet away from others,
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water,
- Get tested if you have symptoms or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, and
- Stay home if you're sick.
Reid Health is giving out primary doses and booster shots of the vaccines at Lingle Grand Hall on the lower level of Reid's main campus in Richmond. Hours there are 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.
You don't have to schedule an appointment or pre-register. Walk-ins are welcome, and there are no long wait times.
For those who would like to make an appointment, Indiana residents can find vaccination sites and schedule a time by going to ourshot.in.gov. Ohio residents should use gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov. You may also call Reid's vaccine clinic directly at (765) 935-8484.
Today's COVID-19 stats
- Patients in containment areas: 52
- Number of those patients who are unvaccinated: 37 (71.2%)
- COVID-19 patients in the ICU: 10
- Number of those patients who are unvaccinated: 8 (80%)
- COVID-19 patients on ventilators: 9
- Number of those patients who are unvaccinated: 7 (77.8%)
- Tests submitted since last update: 322
- Lab-confirmed positives since last update: 135 (41.9% positivity rate)
- Suspected COVID-19 admissions in the past 24 hours: 25
Unvaccinated, as defined by the CDC, includes anyone who either has not received a dose or has received only the first of a two-dose vaccine.
Reid Health serves an eight-county area, including Wayne, Randolph, Henry, Union, Fayette, and Franklin counties in Indiana and Darke and Preble counties in Ohio. The statistics above represent patients from throughout the service area.
- You should never delay care. Previous surges have seen patients put off necessary care for emergent issues such as chest pain, stroke symptoms, appendicitis, and even symptoms of cancer. Delaying care can have life-altering consequences.
- COVID-19 vaccines are FREE. They are safe. Make an informed decision by consulting sites such as the CDC and FDA.
- Indiana residents can find vaccination sites and schedule an appointment by going to ourshot.in.gov. Ohio residents should use gettheshot.coronavirus.ohio.gov.
- Reid's COVID-19 Hotline staff can assist with scheduling a test, receiving test results, and seeking clinical advice. The hotline is open seven days a week by calling (765) 965-4200. Hours are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.
- If you need to be tested for COVID-19, Reid offers drive-thru testing at 1200 Chester Blvd. in Richmond and at 2025 Virginia Ave. in Connersville. Appointments are required at both sites. The Richmond location is open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily while the Connersville location runs 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. To schedule an appointment, call Reid's COVID-19 Hotline.
- Those with risk factors for severe COVID-19 illness might qualify for an infusion of monoclonal antibodies, a treatment designed to help your immune system fight viruses. The infusion works best when given within a few days of the start of symptoms and can be given regardless of whether you've been vaccinated. For more information, call Reid's COVID-19 Hotline.
- Before you come to a Reid Health site to see a loved one or accompany them to an appointment, be sure to check our latest visitor policy and screening procedures.
- Surgical masks are required in all Reid Health facilities. Cloth masks are not acceptable. Reid will provide you with a surgical mask upon entry if needed.