On June 15, Boone County residents arrived at the Witham Pavilion at the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds, some to be tested for COVID-19 for the first time.
“I remember back before we even had a case in Indiana, or really even Boone County, that testing was so restrictive,” Boone County Health Dept. Public Health Educator Claire Haughton said. “You had to sit in these teeny tiny little niches, like you had to travel to Wuhan, China (the location of the first reported cases of the new coronavirus), you had travel into China. And just gradually, it very slowly opened up. But now I think we are at the point where testing isn’t as limited as it used to be.
“One of the big concerns was limited testing kits, limited testing machines and things like that, so this is really important for us to have a better understanding of what the coronavirus is looking like in our county.”
OptumServe Health Services, a health services company, in partnership with the Indiana State Dept. of Health, began offering free COVID-19 testing to all Indiana residents June 15. The shift came after months of statewide, targeted testing that aimed to diagnose those most likely to suffer from the disease – the elderly, minorities and those exhibiting symptoms. OptumServe partnered with the state in April to expand Indiana’s testing capacity, opening 50 sites in two weeks.
Now, the state has at least 202 testing sites across 80 percent of Indiana counties.
The pavilion, the site of Boone County’s only OptumServe after it relocated from Lebanon Senior High School at the end of the week prior, opened to residents who scheduled an appointment. County officials said the move was necessary because the high school could only house the testing site until a specific date. The pavilion will house the site until at least the end of this month.
Although she had no symptoms of COVID-19, Lisa Falahee, 40, of Zionsville, scheduled an appointment.
“(It’s important that) as many people get tested as possible because there’s such a high chance of being asymptomatic,” Falahee said. “I think testing can only be a positive, and the more people who do it the better and the closer we can come to tracking where it is. So far, Indiana seems to be doing really well on their reopening, and so I’m hopeful that it will stay very positive.
“But obviously, there are a lot of other examples that show that we should still be concerned about what’s going on and be cautious, anyway.”
Preliminary research conducted by the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI revealed an estimated 44.8 percent of Indiana residents with COVID-19 are asymptomatic.
Falahee said she has parents who are in a high-risk group, and she would feel more comfortable knowing she isn’t passing it to them or her husband, Greg, or to their two young children. If testing was made available to all Indiana residents earlier, she said she would have taken advantage of the opportunity.
“I think if I didn’t have kids, it might be a little bit different,” Falahee said. “But being in a household where both of us work and we have two small kids at home, it’s given us a different outlook.”
Haughton said the health department hopes more residents will get tested. She said the more people who get tested, the more data state and county officials will have, allowing them to better track potential outbreaks.
“One thing we are really focusing on is asymptomatic folks,” Haughton said. “We really want people to understand what their status is so that if they are asymptomatic, we want them to take the proper precautions to avoid possibly spreading the illness to others.”
Resident: Testing is ‘easy’
Kiandra Adlong, 44, of Zionsville, visited the pavilion June 15 to be tested for COVID-19.
A registered dietitian who works in long-term care facilities across the state, Adlong was required to be tested within a week returning to the facilities. She has worked with patients remotely since March 13. She said her test, which took less than 5 minutes, was simple, convenient and less invasive than she expected.
“Today’s experience was very easy,” Adlong said after completing her test. “I got notice this morning that I needed to be tested during this week. I got online and registered and had an appointment in less than an hour, and then I was here and in and out in five minutes at the longest.”
To register, visit coronavirus.in.gov or call 888-634-1116.