INDIANAPOLIS — An additional 27 people in Indiana, including one in Howard County, have died with confirmed or probable coronavirus infections, pushing the state’s death toll to more than 1,500 people, health officials said.
The Indiana State Department of Health recorded 26 newly confirmed COVID-19 deaths, along with one additional death considered coronavirus-related by doctors but without confirmation of the illness from test results.
Most of the newly recorded deaths happened Tuesday or Wednesday, with others stretching back to May 7. The latest state statistics list 1,508 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
“What we knew through conventional detection methods – testing symptomatic people and those at high-risk for COVID-19 – was just the tip of the iceberg,” said Nir Menachemi, lead scientist on the study and a professor and Fairbanks Endowed Chair in the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI. “Now we’re trying to figure out how big that iceberg actually is.”
Paul Halverson, founding dean of the Fairbanks School of Public Health, said continued testing will answer this question and assist with fighting the spread of COVID-19.
“Ideally, we would test every Hoosier,” Halverson said. “But the next best thing is random sample testing, a scientific approach that allows us to confidently assess how COVID-19 has spread in Indiana, without having to test everyone.”
As part of the first phase of the study — a collaboration of the Indiana State Department of Health and the Fairbanks School of Public Health — researchers tested more than 4,600 Hoosiers between April 25 and May 1 for viral infections and antibodies of SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This number includes more than 3,600 people who were randomly selected and an additional 900 volunteers recruited through outreach to the African American and Hispanic communities to more accurately represent state demographics.
A statewide study by Indiana University researchers released Wednesday estimates that at least 2.8% of Indiana’s population had been infected by the coronavirus by May 1. That infection rate would mean about 186,000 Indiana residents with infections.
Coronavirus testing around the state has largely been limited to those seriously ill and health-care workers. The state health department reported about 26,000 confirmed infections on Thursday.
Additional testing is becoming available around Indiana, with a state contractor opening 50 testing locations. The tests are available to those with symptoms of the respiratory illness, those in close contact with someone infected and people with high-risk health conditions.
Test registration can be done online at lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling 888- 634-1116.
Meanwhile, about 30,000 people applied for unemployment benefits in Indiana last week even as many business restrictions stemming from the coronavirus outbreak were eased in most of the state, federal data released Thursday shows.
Indiana has had about 640,000 people seek jobless aid over the past eight weeks since business closures swept across the country, the U.S. Department of Labor statistics showed. Indiana reported processing nearly 69,000 applications for a separate federal program set up for self-employed and gig workers.
The number of initial unemployment applications submitted in Indiana last week was down about 12,000 from the week before and continued a downward trend from the 100,000-plus the state received for three straight weeks in late March and early April. Indiana was receiving fewer than 3,000 claims per week before the pandemic hit the country.
The federal statistics show Indiana was paying unemployment benefits to about 270,000 people during the week ending April 25, while only about 13,000 people received those payments a year earlier.
Nationally, nearly 3 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week after the government said the unemployment rate soared to 14.7% in April, the highest rate since the Great Depression.