Study suggests more cases, fewer death rate of COVID-19 in Indiana

(Photo supplied/Centers For Disease Control and Prevention)

INDIANAPOLIS — An I-U-P-U-I study estimates more than 180-thousand Hoosiers have already had coronavirus:

Randomized testing by the Fairbanks School of Public Health found about one in 60 Hoosiers had the virus, and another one in 90 showed antibodies, indicating they’d had it previously without knowing it. It adds up to nearly three-percent of Hoosiers who have been infected — 11 times the number of known cases at the time of the study at the end of April.

Fairbanks health policy director Nir Menachemi says nearly half of all Hoosiers with coronavirus never had any symptoms. The large number of previously unsuspected cases makes Indiana’s death rate point-six-percent, one-tenth what the official data had indicated.

Menachemi says while that means any individual Hoosier’s odds of dying from the virus are about one in 170, that’s still six times the death rate from flu. And since the coronavirus is far more infectious and can be carried by people without symptoms, Menachemi says Indiana needs to “double and triple up” precautions like hand washing and social distancing as it slowly reopens.

Menachemi says the study shows people in a household with someone with coronavirus were 12 times as likely to get the virus themselves. He says the large gap shows social distancing has succeeded in reducing the virus’s spread in the community at large.

State health commissioner Kristina Box says it’s “a little bit heartbreaking” when she receives photos from people alarmed at seeing people ignoring those restrictions, standing shoulder to shoulder in line at stores without wearing masks. Box, Menachemi and Governor Eric Holcomb all emphasize the virus is still lurking, and if Hoosiers let their guard down, it could come roaring back.Menachemi notes the nearly one-half of patients who don’t get symptoms are still carriers who can infect the other half.

Fairbanks plans three more rounds of testing to monitor the virus’s spread, with the next wave planned for the first week of June.

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