INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana health officials announced plans Tuesday to significantly increase
coronavirus testing, and the governor said he is preparing details on how
the state could possibly relax business restrictions later this week while
similar steps are debated across the country.
Indiana’s deal with
OptumServe Health Services calls for the company to open 20 testing sites
around the state within the next week, with 30 more sites during the
following two weeks. Those sites are intended to provide COVID-19 testing
for 100,000 people within 30 days, said Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical
officer with the Indiana State Department of Health.
That’s more than
the some 87,100 tests reported to the state health department since
coronavirus testing began in early March as Indiana has trailed national
testing rates. Testing has been largely limited to health care workers and
people who are seriously ill.
The new testing
program will be provided for free to anyone with COVID-19 symptoms without
the need of a doctor’s order, Weaver said.
“This will provide
a more complete picture about the spread of the virus, not only in high-risk
populations but across the entire state,” Weaver said.
is a division of insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, has a $17.9 million
contract with the state, which officials hope will be covered by federal
grants, Weaver said. But neither Weaver nor Gov. Eric Holcomb explained how
the company was selected during the governor’s coronavirus briefing Tuesday.
The first 20
testing sites will be at Indiana National Guard armories, with tests
performed by appointments only. Those appointments can be made on a website
that OptumServe is to launch in the coming days, the governor’s office said.
Those tested are expected to receive the results within an average of 48
Holcomb said he
would announce changes Friday to the statewide stay-at-home order that has
been in effect since March 25. The governor has not specified his planned
modifications but indicated more workplaces and businesses could reopen
while under guidelines such as requiring masks, additional spacing between
employees and frequent cleanings.
State officials are
considering information such as hospitalization and death rates, along with
the availability of intensive care unit beds and ventilators for those who
are seriously ill in deciding whether to lift any restrictions, Holcomb
“That will roll out
in stages,” Holcomb said. “It will not be that light switch, where the
economy’s open - we’re all back to work, same thing as it used to be. It
won’t that. It will be in multiple stages leading through the summer.”
The latest state
statistics showed 546 COVID-19 patients were in the intensive care units of
Indiana hospitals and that 44% of ICU beds remained available as of Monday.
That’s 75 fewer coronavirus patients in those ICUs than last Thursday.
Holcomb has over
the past two weeks lifted the state’s ban on elective medical procedures by
providers including hospitals, surgery centers, dentists and veterinarians.
Dozens of vehicles
circled the roads near a northwestern Indiana prison in a protest Tuesday
over the treatment of inmates facing a coronavirus outbreak inside its
Vehicles with signs
and messages such as “Healthcare is a human right” and “Prison sentence not
death sentence” drove past Westville Correctional Facility.
prison had 143 confirmed COVID-19 infections among its some 2,500 inmates
and staffers, according to state prison system online statistics Tuesday.
maintain they are following health guidelines and isolating those who have
tested positive for the coronavirus. The American Civil Liberties Union of
Indiana and other inmate advocates have pushed for the early release of some
prisoners to lower prison populations. Holcomb has repeatedly said he
doesn’t support such actions.