Widespread contact tracing now underway; Gov. Holcomb to pare down briefings

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS– Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb provided another update Monday as the state continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor said the daily briefings will now be held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, instead of each week day. The Indiana State Health Department’s (ISDH) website will still update each day to provide new case numbers and information on resource availability.

ISDH Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said contact tracing is now happening at a larger scale across the state. This will allow the state to respond more quickly to outbreaks and allow Hoosiers to know if they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

Graphic on contact tracing from Gov. Holcomb’s office

The information collected during this program will be held securely at the state level, Box said.

So far, 320 contact tracers are working. By the end of the month, the state will have 500 contact tracers. About 4,700 people applied to help.

The state cannot compel someone to tell them who they’ve been in contact with, but Box said most people have volunteered the information needed for contact tracing when asked.

Testing sites are available across the state, and the tests are free. Anyone who needs a test is urged to get one.

Dr. Box noted the state will no longer provide breakdowns on presumptive positive cases. She said the tests are not 100% foolproof and results come back negative sometimes even when a person has COVID-19.

Dr. Box and Dr. Tony GiaQuinta, a pediatrician, urged parents to get their children caught up on vaccines if needed as the state begins to reopen. They said a drop in immunizations has been noticed, and children still need to be protected against other illnesses.

Box also urged Hoosiers to not put off routine screenings and other medical work. Getting them scheduled will put you in a better place to manage your overall health.

On Monday, Indiana restaurants and personal service businesses were able to reopen, with restrictions, in many counties.

Restaurants can only open to 50 percent capacity, bar seating must remain closed, and personal service businesses will have to be appointment only. Employees at all these businesses will have to cover their faces, and work stations have to be far enough to meet social distancing guidelines. Customers are also asked to wear masks.

Marion, Monroe and Cass Counties are still under stay-at-home orders, so their businesses will not open today. Lake County moved into “Phase Two” under Gov. Holcomb’s plan Monday.

On Monday, ISDH reported 511 new coronavirus cases and 32 additional deaths, bringing the statewide totals to 24,627 and 1,411 respectively.

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