Experts fear Indiana in early stage of COVID-19 resurgence

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 The numbers reported by the Indiana State Department of Health over the last month show Indiana and Marion County may be on the front end of a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

Dr. Ram Yeleti, Chief Executive Physician of the Community Health Network, was just getting back up to full speed last month after his own personal bout with COVID-19 when he took a look at where Indiana had been and where it was going in the campaign against the novel coronavirus.

“Honestly, back in June, I was thinking that by July and August we’ll actually be in pretty good shape,” he said, “but we’ve actually in the past ten days looked at everything and we are prepared for increased hospitalizations in the next four to six weeks.”

During the last ten days of June, the state’s daily positive infection rate was 4.6%. So far this month, that number is 6.8%.

In Marion County, June ended with a daily positive infection rate of 4.7%. During the first week of July in Indianapolis, the statistic has jumped to 7.1%.

Experts don’t see that daily positive infection number going down any time in the near future.

“I do think it’s the beginning of a trend,” said Dr. David Dunkle, President and CEO of Johnson Memorial Health in Franklin. “I do think it’s obvious that if you go out in public, people are letting their guard down. Social distancing, wearing masks, it seems as if people have forgotten what’s important about stemming the rise of this illness. People need to go back to being vigilant.”

“I think the fear may be now that we may be on the beginning part of that upsurge,” said Dr. Brian Dixon of Regenstrief Institute. “History would suggest that in any of these sort of pandemics or large outbreaks of disease that there’s often a fall before a second wave.”

Dr. Dixon said that the resurgence in statewide statistics may be due to infections showing up in pockets of Indiana that escaped the first wave of coronavirus cases.

“Around the state, there are a couple of localized outbreaks that have occurred,” he said. “One is sort of in the northeast corner near Fort Wayne and the other one is near Evansville, Indiana.”

While Dr. Dixon can’t point to a specific event or date on a calendar that led to the resurgence, he said the virus is now striking more young people than earlier in the outbreak.

“These younger individuals are about fifty percent of those testing positive right now,” he said, “whereas in March and April, younger people between twenty and forty years of age, they were making up about twenty percent of the people who were testing positive, now it’s about half of those people who were testing positive.”

Dr. Dixon said that he doesn’t necessarily expect hospitalization and death rates to keep pace with the spread of the pandemic to younger Hoosiers because the newly infected group is generally healthier and better able to withstand the impact of the disease.

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