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Friday, February 26, 2021

Latest news from officials and Governor Holcomb

by Kathy Tretter

Indiana is the second state (following California) to implement a new COVID-19 testing protocol this week, according to Indiana Department of Health physician Dr. Lyndsey Weaver.

Working with OptumServe, 20 new testing sites will open in National Guard Armories, including the armory in Jasper located at 1481 Bartley Street. By mid-May an additional 30 sites will be opened. The goal is to test 30,000 Hoosiers per week. This expanded testing capacity will cost $17.9 million and should allow every symptomatic person to be tested. Results will be provided within about 48 hours, with negative tests eliciting a text or email and a phone call if positive.

“Launching this partnership with Optum further expands Indiana’s COVID-19 testing capacity,” said Gov. Holcomb. “These free tests will be available in locations across the state, ensuring even more Hoosiers who have symptoms or an affected family member can get tested for coronavirus.”

Testing will be by appointment only. The Optum portal in which to make an appointment can be found online and is preferred, although call-in appointments will be available (a hotline phone number is being added). Hoosiers will register through the Optum portal and self-report symptoms using an online screening tool. Each testing site will be open for at least eight hours per day, Monday – Friday. More information will be provided as it becomes available.  

There is no charge for the testing; however, residents with insurance are asked to bring insurance cards.

In the first 30 days, 100,000 symptomatic Hoosiers are expected to be tested, as well as any Hoosier in close contact of positive cases, or residents in congregate living settings. Hoosiers can get tested without visiting a healthcare provider. The Indiana State Department of Health will continue to target focused testing and high risk populations in its testing.

On Thursday, April 30,  the first death of a COVID-19 sufferer under age 19 in Indiana also occurred.

“We have been working diligently to increase access to testing throughout Indiana with drive-thru clinics and strike teams,” said Dr. Box. “By joining forces with Optum, we will ensure that testing for COVID-19 is available to Hoosiers who need it most.”

Meanwhile, according to Dr. Weaver, 3,774 of those contacted to be tested for a study implemented by the Richard Fairbanks School of Health at IUPUI have registered. The state is seeking the remaining 1,026. Anyone who received a postcard or email from the Indiana State Department of Health is asked to participate. Subjects were chosen randomly to represent a cross-section of Hoosiers and if you were selected, Health officials ask that you please reply. This is just phase one of an ongoing study expected to last a year or more to determine the breadth and depth of infection.

“We’ve got a lot more to do,” said Governor Eric Holcomb. He recognizes that everyone is getting tired of the restrictions but said now is not the time to relent. “It’s why we’re working around the clock … your physical distancing is making all the difference.”

The governor continued, “Listen folks, this can be with us for a year. It all depends on how we manage it.”  

See page four for how Indiana will open up.

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