What experts want you to know about Indiana’s COVID-19 spread rate

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INDIANAPOLIS — Health officials are encouraged by Indiana’s latest COVID-19 spread rate.

It’s one of the lowest in the country.

But that doesn’t mean Hoosiers should stop taking precautions. Some say it only proves they need to be continued.

One way scientists measure the spread of a disease is known as the Reproductive rate, R-naught, or RO. No matter what you call it— the data shows how many people an infected person will infect.

“R-naught above one tell us that the disease is going to be spreading, R-naught below one tells us that the disease is going away,” said Regenstrief Institute Vice President of Data and Analytics Dr. Shaun Grannis.

“Indiana has one of the lowest spread rates in the nation right now,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box. “[It is] less than one, which I am very proud of.”

At last check— Indiana’s spread rate was .95.

“That tells us that in general, the spread of the coronavirus, right now, is declining so I think that’s encouraging,” said Grannis.

And infectious disease experts say it’s indicative of the precautions Hoosiers are taking to stop the spread.

“We just really have to be cautious in any sort of future assessment because things can easily change tomorrow or the next day or next week,” said Dr. Cole Beeler, the Medical Director of Infection Prevention at Indiana University Hospital.

That’s why wearing masks, social distancing and washing your hands will continue being important until there’s an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19.

“This could at least go on for another year,” said Beeler.

Calculating the spread rate is nothing new. Experts say it’s used for all kinds of diseases— even the flu. But it’s just one tool scientists have to help determine the prevalence of COVID-19.

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