Boone County COVID-19 ICU beds near capacity as COVID cases rise


As COVID-19 cases soar in Boone County, the availability of ICU beds at Witham Health Services hospital are shrinking dramatically, according to county health officials.

Witham Health Services President Ray Ingham said the hospital only has a few left.

“What’s happening is we go and get to the point where it’s pretty close to critical,” Ingham said. “We’ll fill one or two of those beds and be at capacity, then we are able to discharge somebody. We are kind of holding our own and praying that it doesn’t get a whole lot worse.”

For the week ending Nov. 19, the Boone County Health Dept. reported 302 COVID-19 cases through the first six reporting days. The prior week, the department reported 339 additional cases. Last week, a death unrelated to a long-term care facility was reported, increasing the county’s cumulative death toll to 59, as of Nov. 18.

The county’s positivity rate rose to 12.3 percent last week, according to BCHD data. The county is orange on the Indiana State Health Dept.’s color-coded county coronavirus map, meaning social gatherings are limited to 50 people, unless an exception is granted in advance by the BCHD.

Boone County Health Dept. Public Health Educator Claire Haughton said the BCHD continues to see community spread outside of long-term care facilities, which contributed to the majority of cases early in the pandemic. She said COVID-19 has spread to every town and city in the county and that no one municipality contributed to a majority of cases.

Haughton and Ingham said it is critical residents help the hospital and health officials by wearing face masks, practice social distancing and avoiding crowds. Haughton said it would be best if families cancel in-person Thanksgiving plans with people not in their immediate family.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to have this conversation to maybe forgo Thanksgiving, but there will be many more Thanksgivings to come, and the more proactive we are this year, the better shape we will be next year,” Haughton said. “Come next year, we may have something of a normal Thanksgiving, if we’re lucky.”