Governor Eric Holcomb’s Wednesday daily briefing focused on nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box ordered directors of nursing facilities and correctional facilities to report any COVID-19 cases or suspected cases and deaths to the state within 24 hours. That included residents, inmates, and employees.
Box said 15% or 31 of the state’s 203 COVID-19 deaths have come from nursing and long-term care facilities, which have been a major focus of the state’s efforts to combat the spread of the virus.
Dr. Daniel Rusyniak with the Family and Social Services Administration called those facilities “the perfect storm” for contagion because there are people in a vulnerable population living together in close quarters.
So far, the state has sent Strike Teams to 200 of a reported 735 facilities and tested 600 people. Of those, 191 tested positive and 170 of them were in long-term care facilities.
Box conceded that Indiana has struggled with its COVID-19 testing capacity. Tests are still focused on high-risk groups, she said, adding that the state had received 19 testing machines that could provide results in 15 to 30 minutes and expand capacity.
The state can do about 3,700 tests per day, Box said. The average COVID-19 patient spends 2-4 days in intensive care and 7-10 days total in the hospital.
Holcomb called COVID-19 an “invisible enemy” and reiterated that social distancing is the most effective tool the state has to slow the spread.
“We’ve got to keep our heads down and grind this thing out day after day after day,” Holcomb said. “There is no shortcut.”
He reminded Hoosiers that the anticipated surge in cases was still to come.
“The wave is coming. When you look at the numbers, the numbers don’t lie,” Holcomb said, again going to a basketball analogy. “We’ve got three-and-a-half more quarters to go. We’ve got to dig deep.”
Holcomb also signed an executive order to allow retired and inactive EMS professionals to join the fight against COVID-19.
The executive order permits retired and inactive EMS professionals to provide supplemental health care services in Indiana during this public health emergency without reinstatement or approval by the Indiana EMS Commission if they work under the supervision of a licensed EMS or health care professional.
Under the executive order, retired and inactive EMS professionals are also allowed to provide primary patient care for patients as part of emergency response, transports and facilities with a temporary certification or licensure from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security.