COVID-19 Weekly Update from Gov. Eric J. Holcomb

In addition to Governor Holcomb’s weekly briefing on COVID-19, the Legislative Continuity Committee met today to continue discussions about how the Legislature will operate in the upcoming year – more details from both events below.

While the number of positive cases, the positivity rates (positive tests per tests given), and hospitalization numbers are increasing across Indiana, there are no changes to any statewide rules or requirements. The Governor’s most urgent statement of the briefing was at the end where he bluntly stated “the facts are clear. It’s (COVID) there. If it’s not in your neighborhood yet and folks are careless, it will be and it will be at a greater rate. I encourage people to stay in touch with the information on our dashboard, get your information there – you don’t have to wait for every Wednesday. The facts are clear. And, be in touch with your local health department like you never have been before.”

Because 69% of hospitalizations are those age 65 and up and 56% of Indiana COVID deaths are from residents of Long Term Care Facilities (LTCF’s), the state is focusing efforts on those LTCF’s to control the spread there. This help includes the deployment of 300+ IN National Guard members next week (and up to 1350 members by mid-November) to work in the LTCF’s to provide:

  • Infection control measures and monitoring
  • Prevention checklists
  • Data entry
  • Registration for testing
  • Staff & visitor screening
  • Wellness checks

Dr. Box encouraged any licensed healthcare worker who is unemployed, retired, or wanting more hours to complete the survey to join the state’s reserve workforce to assist in treating all Hoosiers who need healthcare right now – whether for COVID or for other health-related issues.

Two other major discussion points today included a vaccine update and contact tracing. The state expects some doses by late November and another shipment in December (pending approval of a vaccine), a vaccine will not be widely available for many months. Individual behavior is the only control tactic we have until that time – masks, distancing, washing/sanitizing hands – along with testing and contact tracing. The state is seeing more people refuse to participate in contact tracing and indicating that they will not quarantine, which is a significant concern. Participation in tracing is an important part of protecting your fellow community members and you are encouraged to answer the call and give thorough answers if you are called.

As for your Indiana Legislature, there are many unanswered questions, but some things are becoming more clear. The Senate plans to meet in their Chamber and use the visitor gallery to allow adequate spacing of their members. The House will be meeting in the Indiana Government Center South for their Session and Committee hearings, except for the Ways & Means Committee, which will meet on the existing House floor. Current Indiana Statute specifies that Session will start early in January and must end by April 29th. The stated intention is to pass a bill on Organization Day (Tuesday, November 17th) to provide flexibility around a convening date, options for recessing (perhaps for a few weeks mid-Session to control an outbreak if needed), and a final adjournment date. The Committee meets again on November 12th when we will likely learn more about that bill and other plans for meeting.

New Information and Updates:

  • Since last Wednesday, the state has reported 16,716 new positive cases (169,112 total), 201 new deaths (3,991 total), 75,981 new individuals tested (1,657,090 total), and 208,948 new tests administered (2,783,748 total) as some individuals get tested more than once. All of this information is on the ISDH dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov. There are an additional 236 probable Covid-19 deaths (X-Ray, CT, symptoms & exam consistent w/Covid-19, but no positive test received).
  • The state shares 2 different positivity rates; both trail by 7 days to allow for a full reporting of tests that lag coming in. The positivity rate for unique individuals is 10.2% since the beginning of testing and is 13.5% for the 7 day rate ending 10/21. The positivity rate for ALL tests administered (comparative measure to most other states) is 5.9% from the beginning of testing and 7.1% for the 7-day rate ending on 10/21.
  • Under the color-coded county metrics that combine new cases per 100,000 people over the last week and the 7-day positivity rates through 10/25, SW IN counties are all orange (moderate to high community spread) except Spencer, which is yellow (moderate community spread). You can find these metrics and how they are calculated by choosing the “County Metrics” tab above the map of Indiana on the state dashboard.
  • The state also publishes county-level 7-day positivity rates for all tests given (not unique individuals). SW Indiana rates as of 10/21 are: Gibson 10.4%, Posey 8.8%, Vanderburgh 5.6%, Warrick 5.5%, and Spencer 4.5%.  You can find the county-level information by choosing the “Positivity” tab above the map of Indiana on the state dashboard.
  • There are nearly 280 testing sites across the state. You are encouraged to get tested if you have any symptoms or are have had contact with someone who has tested positive.
  • There are three specific types of data sets on the state’s coronavirus website; scroll down to the blue bar that says “Indiana COVID-19 Data Report.” From there, you can choose “Dashboard” (general statewide data and county-level maps), “LTC” (data about Long Term Care facilities), or “School” (K-12 school data).  Most of the Dashboard data is updated daily while the LTC and School information is updated once each week.

Resources & Reminders: