In an email, Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana Public Health Commissioner, responded to additional questions after Governor Holcomb's daily conference held on Friday, April 17. She confirmed Franklin County could potentially provide COVID-19 testing within the county.

According to Box, counties that do not have on-sitetesting facilities or labs available may be able to conduct testing at the local health departments using either nasal swabs or Abbott machines. Abbott machines, developed by an Illinois-based company, can return a positive result in as little as five minutes and a negative result in 13 minutes.

Box's email regarding local testing came after she had kicked off the governor's daily brief on Friday afternoon and spent a considerable amount of time on the current state and future of testing and statistics.

Before talking about the future of testing, Box started with the announcement Indiana had a total of 642 new cases, 42 deaths and a new daily total high of 3,718 test results. She reported positive tests confirmed remain around 19 percent of total tested. Box does expect that percentage to drop as testing becomes more available.

New Data

Along with the daily breakdown of statewide COVID-19 numbers, statistics regarding hospitalization and recovery of patients in Indiana with confirmed COVID-19 were provided by Dr. Box.

According to Box, the additional statistics were provided thanks to “incredible partners” like Dr. Peter Embi, president and CEO of the Regenstrief Institute— and his team, who worked on analyzing and reporting the data. The statistics are based on the analysis of 7,955 patients who were confirmed positive for COVID-19 in Indiana from the Indiana Health Portal. Those 7,955 cases provided a basis for medical experts to take a deeper dive into how patients fared beyond diagnosis.

The new statistics show of the 7,955 patients 35 percent had an ER visit, and 26 percent were hospitalized, leaving around 6,000 Hoosiers presumably not hospitalized and recovering at home. Six percent of COVID-19 cases were admitted into intensive care, 68 percent were discharged, 20 percent are assumedly still hospitalized, and 12 percent died.

Dr. Box shared the average length of stay for all patients was 9.4 days. Intensive care patients had an average stay of 10.4 days, while non-intensive care patient's average visit was nine days.

“As you can imagine, analyzing this data was a huge endeavor,” Box said during the daily briefing. “I am very grateful for everyone who has pitched in and helped us analyze this data.”

Box noted additional data would be coming as the collaborative partnership continues to break down numbers even further to share statistics that include race, ethnicity and gender.

Local Testing 

Both Gov. Holcomb and Dr. Box stressed expanded testing and the importance of a robust tracing program as keys to continued mitigation and should be expected statewide. Not only will the expansion of testing and a robust tracing program help in the mitigation of COVID-19 currently, but it will also aid health officials during fall in the event there is a second wave of COVID-19. 

Dr. Box reassured, “If that happens, we will have better testing capabilities; we will isolate and quarantine people; we will have the PPE we need; hospitals will have time to recuperate and get back on their feet.”

Dr. Box fielded several questions pertaining to state protocols for local testing. Dr. Box said there is no specific plan about testing in every single county, but she and her team are working quickly to identify testing needs to assist in filling them

Dr. Box noted Indiana recently received 100,000 swabs for testing. So, from the testing standpoint, she said things are “really looking up.” Box urged healthcare providers if they are seeing someone who is symptomatic, to test them.  

Dr. Box further elaborated on testing specific to Franklin County stating testing would ideally occur at traditional healthcare facilities. However, if not, she stated, “We may have to arrange to get your local health department the ability to do testing; either traditional nasal pharyngeal swab, or possibly the point of care testing with one of the Abbott machines.”

As more assessments are led by Box and her team on testing needs, drive-thru testing will continue. 

During the Monday, April 20, daily brief, Dr. Box shared 2,531 people were tested at last week's drive-thru testing that took place in Gary, Sellersburg, Ft. Wayne, and Evansville. This week's drive-thru testing was available again in Sellersburg, Gary, and Ft. Wayne, and also Greensburg. 

Dr. Box assured Hoosiers a map with the closest testing facility for Indiana residents was in the works.

 “We are absolutely engaged with every lab across the state of Indiana,” Dr. Box said.