Coronavirus: Indiana Reports 2,000 Deaths From Virus, State To Test All Nursing Home Staff

Jun 4, 2020

Indianapolis shut down Mass Ave. to allow restaurants to extend outdoor seating into the street.
Credit Lauren Chapman / IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 10 additional confirmed deaths Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 2,032. The state announced more than 35,000 total confirmed cases, with nearly 278,000 Hoosiers tested.

Indiana Hits 2,000 Confirmed COVID-19 Deaths, Jumping 1,000 In A Little Over A Month

A total of 2,032 Hoosiers have died from COVID-19, one month after Indiana began reopening businesses. State officials say their analysis of the data still supports reopening. 

The state reached the grim milestone just more than a month after reaching 1,000 confirmed deaths. State Health Commissioner Kris Box says it’s hard to describe the number. 

"If you had asked me 10 weeks or 12 weeks ago that we’d be sitting here with this many Hoosiers who have lost their lives from this particular disease, I think I would have had trouble understanding that. It’s been the hardest part of this job, quite honestly," Box says.

Eli Lilly Announces World's First Potential COVID-19 Antibody Treatment Study

Eli Lilly and Company has begun what it calls the first study in the world for a potential COVID-19 antibody treatment for humans.

In phase one of the study, hospitalized COVID-19 patients are being dosed at medical facilities to closely track safety and response to the treatment, with initial results expected in about one month.

While medications currently on the market have been repurposed to fight COVID-19, Lilly’s Chief Scientific Officer and President of Lilly Research Laboratories Daniel Skovronsky says this new treatment is specifically focused on treating the virus, and a survivor’s blood was used to develop it.

“Together with our collaborator AbCellera, we were able to obtain a specimen of their blood and look across millions of cells in their blood to find hundreds and hundreds of antibodies against COVID-19 that this patient had made to help them fight off the infection,” says Skovronsky. “We actually were able to test each of them and pick the best one.”

Nursing Homes Can Start Allowing Some In-Person, Outdoor Visits

The state says it will issue new guidance to nursing homes to allow family and friends to do in-person, outdoor visits with residents.

Indiana largely barred any in-person visits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Family and Social Services Administration Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dan Rusyniak says there has been an effort to use technology to help replace that contact.

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But he says there’s no substitute for in-person visits.

“And now while the congregate nature of a nursing home can amplify COVID-19, recent evidence in the scientific literature has shown that transmission risks are much lower outdoors,” Rusyniak says.

Indiana Will Test All Nursing Home Staff For COVID-19

Indiana announced Wednesday it will test all nursing home staff for COVID-19 over the next month.

Family and Social Services Administration Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dan Rusyniak has been the state’s point-person with nursing homes during the pandemic.

He says testing all nursing home employees will tell the state how many staff have COVID-19 – but don’t show symptoms.

“And the data we collect from this … will better inform us on who in a nursing home needs to be tested and then, in the future, how frequently that needs to occur,” Rusyniak says.

Rusyniak says the widespread testing will be limited to nursing home staff, not residents.

Indiana University Athletics Announces Return To Limited Practices

The IU football team will begin voluntary workouts June 15. Other sports will follow in July and August.

Indiana University Athletic Director Fred Glass announced a phased-in return of athletic activities for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began.

In a statement released by the athletic department, Glass said, “We cannot totally eliminate the risk, at least until there is a vaccine, there will be risk. What we can do is have the best doctors give us the best protocols and make sure they are strictly followed. That’s what we’ve done and what we are going to do.”

The football team will be the first group to enter voluntary workouts on June 15, followed by men’s and women’s basketball June 18.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.