INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb said members of the Indiana National Guard are set to deploy to long-term care facilities across the state beginning November 2.
The deployments are part of a statewide response to what health officials are calling a “troubling” increase in coronavirus case numbers and positivity rates.
Governor Holcomb said the state is seeing the coronavirus spread in virtually every community at every level. He cited that 69% of hospitalizations are of people that are 60 years and older, and more specifically, 47% of hospitalizations consist of individuals that are age 70 and over.
Last week, Holcomb said more than 55% of coronavirus deaths are attributed to long-term care facilities.
Indiana National Guard Brigadier General Dale Lyles explained guardsmen are being deployed to prevent further infection in Hoosier communities. General Lyles said guardsmen will arrive at 133 long-term care facilities beginning November 2, and will broaden support over the following three weeks.
The Indiana National Guard are set to help with testing, reporting test results, screening employees and simple infection control practices so staff members can focus on caring for the residents.
Holcomb began Wednesday’s coronavirus briefing by welcoming back State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, who has spent the last two weeks in quarantine after she and family members tested positive for COVID-19.
Dr. Box thanked Hoosiers for the support and gave a detailed breakdown of her diagnosis and quarantine experience. She reported on Indiana’s increase in hospitalizations, as well as the state’s positivity rate which is now 7.1%.
She added that Tuesday’s hospitalizations were 1,679 – the highest Indiana has seen to date.
Adding to the National Guard announcement, Dr. Box said Indiana will also hire clinical staff from the healthcare reserve workforce to supplement long-term care resources.
Long-term care facilities are in the process of receiving the state’s largest distribution of PPEin its history, including 2 million N95 masks, 400,000 face shields and 680,000 gowns. According to Dr. Box, 50% of orders have already shipped with rest soon to follow.
Dr. Box continued to stress the importance of Hoosiers participating in contact tracing. She said the health department is seeing an increasing number of positive individuals that are refusing to identify people they’ve been in close contact with.
She said Indiana is adding 300 contract tracers in October and another 300 in November, and existing contact tracing protocols are being refined to be more efficient.
With regards to a vaccine, Dr. Box reported that the state is expecting a limited supply of Pfizer’s vaccine in late November which will be first distributed to the most vulnerable populations and healthcare workers.
She added that the subject of a vaccine is a rapidly developing situation, and a widely available vaccine – for all people of all ages – is still many months away.
Governor Holcomb and Dr. Box continue to remind Hoosiers to keep washing their hands, wear masks and practice social distancing.