State testing more as coronavirus deaths rise to 65

By KEN KUSMER
The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana has increased its ability to test people for the coronavirus but continues to target certain patients because of limited supplies, the state health commissioner said Wednesday.

Pregnant women and certain high-risk individuals such as those with high blood pressure are given top priority for testing, Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said during state officials' daily news briefing on the pandemic.

Sixteen more people have died in Indiana from coronavirus-related illnesses, raising the state’s virus death toll to 65. The state's number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, grew by 409 to 2,565, following corrections to the previous day’s total, the Indiana State Department of Health said earlier Wednesday.

The additional deaths reported Wednesday had occurred over multiple days.

To date, 14,375 tests have been reported to the agency, up from 13,373 on Tuesday, it said.

“We have increased testing capacity significantly over several weeks” through Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly & Co. and other private laboratories, Box said. Lilly performed 458 tests on Tuesday, she said.

The department on Wednesday distributed 3,000 additional testing kits to nine Indiana hospitals, Box said.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said he has not been tested because he has not shown symptoms.

Holcomb and Lilly Chairman and CEO David Ricks announced a social distancing initiative, the #INthistogether campaign, to educate Hoosiers on the importance of social distancing, to provide access to helpful tips and information and to galvanize communitywide commitment to flattening the curve of new coronavirus cases.

The campaign including videos and social media posts from Indiana Pacers guard Victor Oladipo, former Indiana Fever player and current vice president of basketball operations Tamika Catchings, and Indianapolis Colts linebacker Darius Leonard.

"It only works if we all do this together,” Ricks said.

“We know this will continue to spread,” Holcomb said of the pandemic. “Don’t gamble with your own life, and don’t gamble with others.’”

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Dr. Virginia Caine of the Marion County Public Health Department extended “stay at home” orders for Marion County through May 1. The Health Department ordered the closure of all golf courses in Marion County beginning Friday.

Marion County had 159 of the state's new coronavirus cases reported Wednesday. Indianapolis and the seven counties surrounding it account for 63% of Indiana’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,117 cases alone in Marion County.

One of the surrounding counties, Boone, is preparing its 4-H Fairgrounds to be used as an overflow medical area for COVID-19 patients, WISH-TV reported. The area is designed for those coronavirus patients who may not be well enough to go home but do not need intensive care.

Wednesday's state update showed that only nine of Indiana's 92 counties have no coronavirus cases.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are among those particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.




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