Indiana officials to start randomly selecting residents for new COVID-19 testing

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CINCINNATI (FOX19)- Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, announced Thursday that they would be partnering with the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health to conduct a COVID-19 study.

"The scientifically designed study will examine the prevalence of COVID-19 among Hoosiers," said Dr. Box. "The study will also give us a better understanding of the extent to which individuals are showing antibodies that indicate signs of past infection."

Health officials announced that there are 612 new COVID-19 positive cases since Monday, bringing the total to 13,039 positive cases.

Dr. Box says starting Saturday, Health officials will select Indiana residents to ensure that they accurately reflect racial, ethnic, and geographic demographics of Indiana.

Indiana residents, ages 12 and up, will be selected randomly in each district, to begin COVID-19 testing, said Dr. Nir Menachemi, Fairbanks Chair of Public Health.

Dr. Menachemi says the study will:

  • Determine what proportion of the overall population is or was previously infected, providing an initial baseline.
  • The state of Indiana has no such measurement at this time.
  • The results will place a role in guiding decisions about the response.
  • The demographics of the people tested will represent the population of the State of Indiana.

The previous testing came from patients with severe symptoms or other high-risk people, including health care workers and essential employees, said Dr. Menachemi.

"Because these tests focused on sick and high-risk individuals, we lack in understanding of how many people in our state have been infected, especially if they were not formally tested or had no symptoms," said Dr. Menachemi.

Health officials will take patients who have been infected or may have been infected with the virus.

Dr. Menachemi says each selected person will be asked if they want to participate. Those who agree will be provided a nasal swab to test for active viral infection, and a blood draw to allow for antibody testing.

The testing will begin in phases.

  • Phase 1: Testing begins Saturday and runs through Wednesday
  • Phase 2: Testing begins May 23
  • Phase 3: Testing begins Oct. 2020
  • Phase 4: Testing begins April 2021

"We believe this data will better inform our plans to safely reopen our state and determine what new normal mode of operation really looks like," said Dr. Box.

To increase testing of Hoosiers who are sick, starting April 24, the ISDH is expanding its drive-thru clinics to include health care workers, first responders, or essential workers, and someone in your household who is symptomatic.

Anyone who is not an essential worker, health care worker or first responder but is at higher risk due to age, weight, or underlying health conditions and are symptomatic can also visit the drive-thru clinic for testing.

Health officials say this is limited to Indiana residents only and are requiring one test per vehicle.

Anyone who has been tested after April 13, is asked to visit https://eportal.isdh.in.gov/COVID to access their results.

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