COVID-19 deaths in Indiana continues to rise, no new flu deaths reported

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — While the Indiana State Department of Health reported 656 additional COVID-19 cases and 46 new COVID-19 deaths, influenza deaths have stalled in the state.

The ISDH released the latest COVID-19 report Saturday, showing a total of 27,280 cases in the state. The state is also now up to 1,596 coronavirus deaths.

The data shows that 171,358 people have been tested so far in the state, with a positive reporting rate of 15.9 percent. The health department said deaths are reported based on when data is received and could reflect a period of multiple days. Saturday’s report ranged from 5/6/20 through 5/15/20.

Data//ISDH

Marion County reported their totals as 8,151 cases and 474 deaths – the most in the state.

Marion County also had the most new cases, at 164. Other counties with more than 10 new cases were Allen (34), Bartholomew (14), Dubois (15), Elkhart (32), Floyd (41), Hamilton (23), Henry (16), Howard (23), Johnson (21), Lake (66), Putnam (22), St. Joseph (27), Tippecanoe (10) and White (14). The Lake County totals include results from East Chicago and Gary, which have their own health departments.

Intensive care unit and ventilator capacity remain steady. Nearly 40 percent of ICU beds and nearly 81 percent of ventilators were available as of Saturday.

On Wednesday, Dr. Paul Halverson and Dr. Nir Menachemi from the Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI discussed the preliminary results of a statistical analysis of the prevalence of COVID-19 in Indiana.

According to the results, 1.7% tested positive for COVID-19. Another 1.1% tested positive for antibodies, meaning they had contracted the coronavirus at some point.

The study projected the prominence of COVID-19 among the general population at 2.8%–that would be an estimated 186,000 Hoosiers. In that same time frame, the state was aware of only 17,000 cases.

Menachemi said that meant only 1 out of every 11 true infections was reflected in state testing during that period.

Furthermore, the study showed the mortality rate was 0.58% in Indiana during the time frame. That’s nearly six times the mortality rate of the flu (0.1%), researchers noted.

44.8% of Hoosiers were asymptomatic—which means they had COVID-19 but showed none of the typical symptoms, making them vectors for spreading the coronavirus to vulnerable populations.

Hoosiers who have symptoms of COVID-19 and those who have been exposed and need a test to return to work are encouraged to visit a state-sponsored testing site for free testing. Individuals without symptoms who are at high risk because they are over age 65, have diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure or another underlying condition, as well as those who are pregnant, live with a high-risk individual or are a member of a minority population that’s at greater risk for severe illness, also are encouraged to get tested.

ISDH is holding drive-thru clinics through Sunday in Bluffton, Gary, Madison and Sullivan. Details of these clinics and additional state-sponsored sites can be found at the COVID-19 testing clinic link at www.coronavirus.in.gov. Individuals should bring proof of Indiana residency such as a state-issued ID, work ID or utility bill.

The ISDH also released its weekly influenza report Friday. The report shows no additional flu deaths in the week ending May 9. A contributing factor could be that the primary flu season is now over. Over the past 19 weeks, there have been 129 influenza-associated deaths

With the updated figures, as of the reporting date of the influenza report, Indiana has more than 11 times the number of COVID-19 deaths in 8 reporting weeks than influenza deaths throughout the entirety of the season.

Indiana influenza vs COVID-19 deaths (Data//ISDH flu report/ISDH COVID-19 dashboard)

Indiana is including presumptive positive case numbers in the daily report, which may cause a spike in the state’s total death numbers. Probable deaths are those for which a physician listed COVID-19 as a contributing cause based on X-rays, scans, and other clinical symptoms but for which no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by ISDH and occurred over multiple days.

Nationally, the CDC shows that laboratory-confirmed flu activity remains low. Influenza-like illness activity continues to decrease and is below the national baseline. While the percent of deaths due to pneumonia or influenza is decreasing, it remains elevated. This is primarily due to COVID-19.

The provisional death counts released by the CDC show that there have been 60,229 COVID-19 associated deaths so far this year. Compared to the same time period, there have been 6,158 influenza-associated deaths.

National COVID-19 vs influenza deaths (Data//CDC)

Throughout the October 1 through April 4 flu season, the CDC reports an estimated 24,000-62,000 flu deaths. The CDC noted that the week of April 4 was the last week in-season influenza burden estimates would be provided for the 2019-2020 season.

This estimate is calculated from a mathematical model the CDC uses based on data collected through the U.S. Influenza Surveillance System that covers about 8.5% of the U.S. population.

The CDC also notes that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting healthcare-seeking behavior. The number of persons and their reasons for seeking care in the outpatient and emergency department settings is changing.

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