Indy first responders track COVID-19 trends


The Indiana State Department of Health reported that Marion County’s number of positive coronavirus test results doubled in 48 hours from Monday to Wednesday.

At 10 a.m. Monday, that total stood at 110, about the same time testing of at-risk health care workers showing COVID-19 symptoms began at Eli Lilly and Company.

Wednesday morning, the number was at 226 as more positive test results of individuals who were denied testing due to a lack of available kits last week are reported.

Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services personnel are also spotting an uptick in the number of people calling for ambulance service who are experiencing respiratory or influenza-like symptoms.

That total has climbed from 40 on Monday to 59 on Tuesday.

“What we’re seeing is what I think everyone would expect,” said IEMS Director Dr. Daniel O’Donnell. “We’re seeing an increase in the number of influenza-like illnesses and folks calling in with flu-like symptoms and calling us. Our overall volume remains constant, but we are seeing a higher percentage of those flu calls.”

Dr. O’Donnell said the increase is likely due to more actual coronavirus cases or the public’s willingness to seek emergency medical care for symptoms that might have gone unreported in the past.

“What I think we’re seeing is an indication of, yes, we are having an increase of people experiencing flu-like illness because of everything that’s going on, but also heightened awareness by our crews. They’re extra vigilant of making sure that they are appropriately protecting themselves and also asking that extra question, that third or fourth question, to see if there’s any semblance of a flu-like illness so they can don the personal protective equipment.”

Johnson County EMS officials report that while their overall run volume has stayed consistent, a higher percentage of those calling for assistance are experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box told reporters at a statehouse briefing Wednesday afternoon that while ISDH has raw data on the number of Hoosiers testing positive for COVID-19 and deaths, demographic information regarding age and underlying medical issues remains elusive, though efforts are underway to confirm those statistics.

When pressed about the number of available intensive care hospital beds and ventilators throughout the state to treat the most seriously ill coronavirus patients, Dr. Box said that was a fluid number due to reconfigurations of bed space and the redeployment of essential equipment, and such statistics are kept confidential in an agreement with the reporting entities.

Dr. Box said that the state recently accepted its second disbursement of facemasks, face shields, n95 masks, gowns and gloves from the national strategic stockpile and that she was confident that Indiana medical care providers were well stocked for more than two weeks in anticipation of an expected coronavirus patient surge.

Dr. O’Donnell predicts his IEMS crews will be among the first to spot the spike in patients in Marion County.

“I think if you look at what’s going on in other larger cities, I think we will see a rise over the next few days, more seriously ill individuals over the next few days,” he said. “Then in the weeks to come, and maybe ten days later, we may see what the effects, hopefully positive, of all the measures we have taken such as social distancing, limiting large gatherings, things like that. I think we’ll start to see if that’s working or not.”

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