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An opioid epidemic. High smoking rates. Health care provider shortages. Indiana faces serious public health challenges. Side Effects Public Media provides in-depth coverage of these issues and more.

Update: Indiana Officials Release Stats on ICU Beds, Ventilators

Lauren Chapman, IPB News
FILE PHOTO of Dr. Jennifer Sullivan

Last week, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and state Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box declined to provide numbers of ICU beds and ventilators to media outlets requesting them. On Monday, that abruptly changed.

"I will never share hard numbers with you," Box said at a news conference Thursday, expressing concern that hospital systems in Indiana expect those numbers to remain confidential. Hospitals would also not reveal ventilator numbers in email exchanges with Side Effects. 

Officials broke the silence on Monday. Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Dr. Jennifer Sullivan told reporters that the state has 1,940 ICU beds and 1,177 ventilators. 

Box indicated about 40 percent of the state’s ICU beds are currently open. 

The numbers contradict a statement earlier Monday from U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.), who said that two weeks ago, the state had “roughly 3,700 hospital beds with ventilators."

Public health experts across the U.S. have been worried about a shortage of ventilators and ICU beds for severe COVID-19 cases. The issue has been highlighted in hard-hit New York City and other regions where the disease is spreading rapidly.

A week ago, Indiana had identified 259 COVID-19 cases. That number has since grown to 1,786. 

On Sunday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams wrote that Indianapolis is an “emerging hotspot” in the COVID-19 epidemic. More than 800 people in Marion Co. have tested positive for the disease. 

This story was produced by Side Effects Public Media, a news collaborative covering public health.

Jake Harper is an investigative reporter for Side Effects Public Media, and he is a co-host of the Sick podcast. He can be reached at