Gov. Holcomb announces new study involving 20,000 Hoosiers to better understand COVID-19 impact

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Governor Eric Holcomb and other state leaders said they’re making efforts to better understand the impact the coronavirus is having on certain Hoosier populations, and the state is launching a new study to answer some of those questions.

This study will inform the governor on future decisions like opening the state’s economy. We’re told they’ll start taking samples as early as Saturday.

The state and its partners at IU Fairbanks School of Public Health will choose certain demographics to be tested based off tax filing information.

In total, 20,000 people will be randomly tested statewide in four waves.

Wave one of the study, which includes testing a pool of 5,000 Hoosiers, starts immediately. They will be tested for COVID-19 and antibodies.

Researchers explained a key goal of the study is to test people with mild symptoms

“Again if we are only testing people with the most serious symptoms, we are only looking at the tip of the iceberg, what our study allows us to do is look below the water and see the entire iceberg and try to get a sense of how large it is and how it’s affecting different communities,” Nir Menachemi, chair of health policy and management, Fairbanks School of Public Health, said.

This test study is volunteer but not open to the public. The state will mail out postcards, send texts or call selected participants.

“There will be people that will be so afraid, and have so much dread of getting positive results that that might even paralyze them from taking the test,” explains Indy Therapy and Counseling therapist Joel Hutton, suggesting it may be polarizing for some people, “Then the other side, there will be those people who will absolutely be ready to take it, and feel good about taking it, because they hear in the media some people just carry it.”

Hutton advises anyone having anxieties about receiving the test, or the illness in general, to think about the now.

“There’s not a test at my door right now. I’m not feeling symptoms right now. My family is not feeling symptoms right now,” says Hutton.

Holcomb says he isn’t waiting on this data to act, but it does help to have all the facts in front of him when the time comes to open the economy.

Additionally, Fred Payne, commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, made an announcement about unemployment numbers. He said weekly claims continue to drop since the March peak.

He also said even though we are seeing a high number of claims, we are seeing increased payments.

And good news for self-employed, contractors, gig workers and others who don’t traditionally qualify for unemployment—those people who are unable to work because of the coronavirus pandemic will now be able to apply for benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program.

Payne said the unemployment site will go down at 7 p.m. Thursday so they can start accepting PUAP applications on Friday, April 24.

The target date for those payments is May 8.

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