National model suggests date for Indiana to relax COVID-19 restrictions

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Governor Eric Holcomb has indicated that Monday he will extend Indiana’s stay-at-home order to defeat the coronarvirus until at least May 1.

That order was put into effect March 25, but one national tracking model recommends that the order last a full two months before the governor should begin lifting his social distancing guidelines.

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, in its most recent update this past Friday, indicated that, “After May 25, 2020, relaxing social distancing may be possible with containment strategies that include testing, contact tracing, isolation, and limiting gathering size.”

The IHME model listed Indiana surpassing its peak for hospitalizations for seriously ill COVID-19 patients and deaths as occurring in the past nine days.

A model developed by the Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI predicts Marion County will hit its surge before the end of the month and the rest of Indiana by mid-May.

The most recent statistics reported at noon Sunday by the Indiana State Department of Health reveal Indiana set a one-day record for testing 4,284 Hoosiers with 577 positive results, a 10% drop from last week’s high point.

In Marion County, 1,860 tests were conducted, almost twice the county’s highest total ever, with 266 positive results, twice those of the day before.

Medical analysts say they are searching for a flattening of Indiana’s outbreak statistics before a relaxation of Indiana’s stay-at-home order should be considered..

“I think this is some evidence that social distancing is working, and so I think this helps give us some confidence that once we actually start to see numbers go down, that gives us some indication that we could slowly begin to open things up and keep better control of new clusters and new outbreaks,” said Dr. Brian Dixon, director of public health informatics at the Fairbanks School of Public Health.

The ISDH reported that approximately 50% of the state’s more than 2,800 intensive care unit beds remain empty, and more than 3/4 of its 3,117 ventilators are available to treat the most seriously ill Indiana coronavirus patients.

“What we’re seeing in central Indiana is a flattening of hospitalizations,” said Dr. Dixon, “so the numbers of ICU beds that are available is remaining pretty stable. The number of ventilators that are available is remaining stable, and we have available ventilators in this part of the state.

“Other parts of the state are still experiencing some incline in hospitalizations, but they are not yet exceeding capacity, so I still feel pretty confident that rates have flattened in central Indiana. The rates are not going down, but they’ve remained very stable this week, which gives us a good indication that we may not hit the extreme peaks that were forecasted by several of the models that are out there.”

As of noon Sunday, the pandemic had claimed 562 lives in Indiana, including 192 in Marion County.

The IHME model now predicts the virus’ Indiana death toll will reach 903 by May 14, while the Fairbanks model estimates that between 800 and 900 Hoosiers will lose their lives to COVID-19.

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