State hopes to increase COVID-19 testing

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In a little over a month, the state has increased the maximum number of COVID-19 tests it can perform each day to 3,700, but state officials hope to further increase that number to at least 6,300 tests per day in the coming weeks.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box said the increase in testing is due to an increase in the number of labs performing tests across the state. In addition, the Indiana State Dept. of Health, Eli Lilly, IU Health, LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics and other labs have performed COVID-19 tests at their laboratories.

“By adding labs … our hope is to process more than 6,300 tests a day across the state in just the coming weeks,” Box said. “We’re also looking to increase testing in northern and southern Indiana … specifically for our first responders, our healthcare providers, our long-term care workers, etc. as we have been able to do in central Indiana.”

On April 5, the state performed more tests for the disease stemming from the new coronavirus than on any other day, reporting 3,548 tests during the 24-hour period. Box said the maximum number of tests state officials estimate they can perform each day is 3,700.

Noting the increase, Box said it has allowed the state to expand its testing criteria. Previously, COVID-19 tests have been reserved for healthcare workers, first responders and those with severe symptoms.

In the past week, symptomatic pregnant patients, individuals with body mass indexes over 30 and individuals with underlying health concerns have been included in testing criteria, though some have been tested prior to the criteria expansion.

Indiana, as of this time, still lags behind other neighboring states in testing. Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan have all reported more COVID-19 tests per 100,000 residents.

The state also reported today it received 113,308 surgical gowns, 186,060 N95 masks, 186,060 surgical masks, 85,920 face shields, 295,150 gloves and 2,313 coveralls from the strategic national stockpile, a national reserve of health supplies, after receiving its third and final shipment, 80 percent of which has been distributed. Box said she, at this time, is doubtful the state will receive any more supplies from the stockpile as it has been mostly depleted.

Even with significant conservation, these resources are estimated to last less than 13 days if the state receives no further supplies, according to state officials. With significant conservation, state officials estimate 50,000 masks will be used per day.

But state officials are now turning to individual businesses and manufacturers – often from those in Indiana – to continue to buy needed medical supplies. The state, local hospitals and first responders also continue to receive numerous donations of medical resources during the pandemic.

The ISDH today announced that 568 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19. That brings to 5,507 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total.

A total of 173 Hoosiers have died to date. Deaths are reported based on when data is received by the ISDH and occurred over multiple days.

To date, 28,764 tests have been reported to the ISDH, up from 26,192 on Monday.

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