Could Hoosiers be gaining immunity against COVID-19? Experts weigh in on state’s downward trend

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FILE – In this April 2, 2020, file photo taken through a tinted car window, a technician takes a nasal swab for a coronavirus detection test at a drive-thru testing facility in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The United Arab Emirates said Wednesday, Dec. 9, 2020, that a Chinese coronavirus vaccine by Sinopharm tested in the federation of sheikhdoms is 86% effective, though it released few details. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File)

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INDIANAPOLIS — As the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reports an additional 1,480 positive COVID-19 cases Wednesday, local experts said the state is headed in the right direction.

“We’re seeing a decline in hospitalizations, we’re seeing a decline in emergency room visits for COVID – those are hospitalizations for COVID positive patients… daily cases are down as well,” said Dr. Shaun Grannis, VP for Data and Analytics at Regenstrief Institute.

As of February 3, the ISDH County Metric map shows 29 counties in Yellow, 59 in Orange and 4 in Red. That is more than triple the number of counties in Yellow compared to one week ago.

“If we’re testing less, and the positivity rate is going down, that tells us that likely less disease in the community,” Dr. Gannis said. “And that’s what we’re seeing.”

Dr. Grannis said there are several factors that could be contributing to this downward trend. Some of which include better public education, increased safety precautions, and Hoosiers building immunity.

According to the state dashboard, roughly 10% of Hoosiers have tested positive for COVID-19, but Dr. Thomas Duszynski with the IU Fairbanks School of Public Health said even more could have been asymptomatic.

“So, they’re going to carry some form of immunity with them. We don’t know long that is yet, but we know once you’re infected and you recover, you have some antibodies that could help fight off the infection,” said Dr. Duszynski.

Is the total number of recovered Hoosiers enough to reach herd immunity? Both experts said no. However, they said it could be a contributing factor to our declining numbers.

“And that’s really a good thing. That’s the direction we want to be heading and need to be heading,” said Dr. Duszynski.

“We have to continue doing all of the things that we know can help reduce the spread of this illness,” said Dr. Grannis.

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