Health officials monitor spread of COVID-19 during Big Ten Championship games

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INDIANAPOLIS – Marion County health officials say they are closely monitoring the spread of the COVID-19 community as out-of-state fans travel to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday .

“If you are in public – and especially at mass gatherings – mask yourself again,” said Melissa McMasters, Vaccination and Infectious Disease Program Administrator for the Marion County Department of Public Health (MCPHD).

McMasters said the rule of thumb should apply to all Hoosiers, regardless of their vaccination status. She said she believes the United States will see more cases of the omicron variant appear nationwide in the coming days.

“Sadly I think people are a little bit exhausted with these safety precautions, but right now it may be more important than ever as we see this variation happen,” McMasters said.

Meanwhile, contact tracers at IUPUI’s Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health have said they are ready to deal with a potential increase in COVID-19 cases.

Shandy Dearth, director of the undergraduate epidemiology program at Fairbanks, issued this written statement saying in part:

We’ll follow up if we see any clusters of cases reporting they are attending the downtown games, but like most fans attending the out-of-state college games, the local health departments where these people reside are said to be the ones who do. follow up on any positive results. testing. We will only receive information on cases that reside in Marion County. I know that the MCPHD Epidemiology Department is also continuing its regular surveillance which includes syndromic surveillance (looking for increases in symptoms reflecting COVID), as well as analysis of reported cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Indiana is currently seeing an increase in cases and we encourage all adults 18 and over to get their boosters and everyone should hide!

Shandy Dearth – Director of the Undergraduate Epidemiology Program at the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI

“Certainly still during this pandemic, all large gatherings worry me about transmission,” said Dr Christopher Belcher, medical director of infection prevention at Ascension St Vincent Hospital. “The timing could be better, I think. “

Dr Belcher said the championship game comes at a time when COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise.

Currently, 26 patients are hospitalized with COVID-19 at Ascension St. Vincent Indianapolis hospitals. Of these 26 patients, eight are in an intensive care unit.

“I think things will be a lot safer if people are wearing their masks,” Dr Belcher said. “Keeping this mask on when you’re in a large group will help reduce transmission. “

Masks are no longer mandatory at Lucas Oil Stadium, but Dr Belcher is hoping Hoosiers makes the right decision and wears one anyway.

“I want people to come here – I think the tournament is a good thing – but people should get the shot or boost if you haven’t, wear your mask, socialize if possible… Make it as secure as possible. I know we want to get back to normal, but let’s also be safe, ”Dr Belcher said. “I know it’s been a long time, but you still have to do these things to protect yourself and others. “

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