INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– From the start of the coronavirus pandemic, doctors and health care officials have said the world, the United States and Indiana have been bedeviled by a lack of testing and accurate data.
Into that statistical breach this weekend steps the Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI and the Regenstrief Institute.
“This is a great example of what we often call citizen science so we have an opportunity for individuals, no matter who they are or where they live, to participate in giving data to us to assess this disease and then really how quickly then we could potentially reopen things up,” said Dr. Brian Dixon, Director of Public Health Informatics at the Fairbanks School.
Fairbanks and Regenstrief are launching an online survey posted on the Microsoft MSN portal to ask those infected with the coronavirus, even those who weren’t, about their experience so experts can track where the outbreak has been and where it’s going.
The survey has been translated in 30 languages to solicit responses from around the globe.
“We’re gonna ask questions about, do they have a fever, do they have a cough, do they have shortness of breath, so we’re asking a lot of questions around the symptoms we know are related to COVID and we’re also asking if they’ve been tested for COVID, we’re asking if they’ve traveled outside of their house greater than five or ten miles, we’re asking if they’ve traveled Internationally,” said Dr. Dixon.
The only identifying information the survey will seek is the responder’s zip code in order to track the outbreak’s footprint.
“I think the lack of testing has really provided a lot of uncertainty about where the disease is and where it’s headed,” said Dr. Dixon. “It’s very difficult to make decisions in this particular crisis because of the lack of information, and so over time we have developed a testing capacity and expanded that but that has probably set us back by a couple weeks of really being able to have a handle on how much disease is out there and how much we can expect in the future, because it’s very difficult to project into the future if you don’t have a good handle on how much disease you have right now in the community.”
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announced that more than ten thousand Hoosiers have tested positive for the disease and more than a third of them are in Marion County.
Indianapolis accounts for 182 of the state’s 519 COVID-19 deaths.
Dr. Box reported Friday afternoon that the Indiana State Department of Health has tracked nearly 8,000 coronavirus patients.
Of that amount, 35% were sick enough to visit a hospital emergency room and 2026 were hospitalized. Five hundred of the sickest patients were sent to intensive care.
That’s about six percent of the tracked cases.
“We also look at the number of individuals in that 2026 patients that were admitted to the hospital,” said Dr. Box, “and found it 1384 of them had already been discharged for 68% discharged, 20% are likely still hospitalized and unfortunately we know that 12% of those covid-19 patients that were hospitalized are known to have died.”
Governor Holcomb said he will sign an executive order Monday that will extend the state’s stay-at-home order to May 1 while he evaluates plans that have been solicited from the business community on how to gradually restart Indiana’s economy once the surge in COVID-19 patients passes.