Coronavirus

For each person infected, COVID-19 spreads to about 6 more

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The new surge of COVID-19 cases has seen scientists looking again at just how quickly the coronavirus can spread. 

They’re looking at what’s called “the R naught number,” which is the scientific ratio of how many people one person with the virus can infect. 

Indiana State Department of Health reported Tuesday that 5,447 additional Hoosiers have tested positive for COVID-19, for a total of 392,663. In addition, the state recorded 124 more deaths, putting the Indiana death toll from the coronavirus at 6,109.

News 8 spoke with a public health expert, Dr. Richard Pan, who says the current coronavirus R naught is much too high.     

Gillis: We are talking about probability theory and the role it has played in terms of COVID-19 and the pandemic. It’s certainly played a very important role and has helped us anticipate the spread, the public health threat…times when we are most vulnerable and we need to scale back and then when we can open up. In simplest terms, what is probability theory, how has it helped us during this pandemic and is it a reliable lens through which we can make decisions or have been making decisions in terms of COVID-19?

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Pan: With COVID-19 or any other threat to our health we think about risk and what is our level of risk. So, when it comes to COVID-19 what we want to think about is what are the things we can do to lower our risk of both exposure and therefore getting the disease as well as transmitting it to other people because it is a contagious virus. We don’t want to either get it or give it to other people

When we think about things that we need to do, we have to realize that in order to reduce the risk of getting COVID-19…what we want to do is first of all reduce the amount of virus there is in the community overall. So, that’s about not transmitting it to other people. But then there are also things we can do to reduce our own risk. For example, wearing a mask. That’s been shown to be about 45 percent effective in reducing transmission of the virus. Keeping 6 feet away from people. Again, reduces that transmission. Being outdoors versus indoors or having enough ventilation reduces that risk. 

So, while no one thing in particular will eliminate that risk if you do several of them together then the probability of you getting the virus can shrink dramatically and, in addition, the probability that you can transmit it to other people will decrease. The point is…if everyone does that collectively…so if each one of us decides for ourselves and everyone does it together then we can actually even eliminate the virus in our community and that’s happened in several other countries. 

Gillis: Circling back to things that we can and cannot do to spread the virus…we have this term in probability theory that’s called the R naught. Can you explain what that is and how it relates to COVID-19? And what goes into that number? What are things that prevent that number from going up? Or from going down or staying the same. 

Pan: An R naught is a technical way of describing the number of people an infected person is likely to infect around them. And certainly lots of factors go into that, but it’s sort of an indicator of how infectious the disease is. For example, measles–which is one of the most infectious viruses around–has an R naught around 18. COVID-19 has an R naught of about 5.7–approximately 6. 

That means that if we did nothing to prevent the spread a person with COVID-19 is likely to infect approximately 6 people on average or 5.7…but let’s round it up to 6. But if, for example, you wear a mask, you could reduce that by almost half. So that means now only 1 person would only affect 3 people and if they kept their distance then it would reduce it even further. 

And I would also point out that if you look at the R naught number for a group of people or a population…as long as the R naught is greater than 1 that means the virus is spreading through the community and it’s growing. If you have an R naught for a group of people or population of less than 1 that means the amount of virus is slowly shrinking in the population. 

From a public health standpoint when we’re looking at groups of people or a community we would like to do things to get that R naught below 1 because that means that the virus is slowly decreasing in terms of its spread within the community. So, R naught is a very useful term to help us figure out what are the things we need to do to stop or slow the spread of a virus whether we are looking at it in terms of a community or we can also think about it in terms of individuals and what are the things you can do to try to reduce the spread let’s say in your household or workplace and your likelihood of getting it because someone else has the virus. 

Gillis: So, the R naught is approximately 6 if we were doing nothing to prevent the transmission but there are these modifiable and non-modifiable factors that we can take into consideration. So, the modifiable are what you were saying in terms of wearing our masks and doing social distancing and staying out of places we shouldn’t be, staying away from large gatherings. But in terms of things that we can’t control. Let’s say, for example, now the weather is changing. We have a colder environment outdoors. We have a drier environment indoors. How might this affect the number, in your opinion, moving forward taking into consideration the things we don’t have control over? 

Pan: Keep in mind that the R naught is an average. What happens is someone is infected and if they are in close quarters with a whole bunch of other people then the R naught for that person can get very large. So, if you happen to be in a very large household with ten other people and you’re all very close to each other then the likelihood of infecting people is probably not just going to be 6, but it could possibly be 10. 

So, what happens when the weather gets colder outside? Well, what that does is changes our behavior. And certainly the number of people we might infect–or the likelihood of you getting infected–will increase if it causes people’s behavior to change in a way that is more likely to make you exposed

Think about if it’s winter…it’s cold outside so you’re more likely to be indoors. Indoors is probably less likely to have good circulation and you’re more likely to be with other people and more people. So, it’s more likely that someone in your group in whatever indoor space you’re talking about–your house, your apartment, a workplace, restaurant or bar–which hopefully you’re not visiting right now because of COVID…But if you do go to a place…maybe going shopping…how many people are together and how close are they together?

When you have things like colder weather or let’s say it’s raining outside…what do we all do? We go indoors and if we’re feeling like we want to connect with other people sometimes what happens is we’re getting closer to people and it’s more likely the infection will spread. So, when we’re thinking about COVID-19 what we really want to think about are chains of transmission. How many people does that one infected person infect? That’s that R naught number–which is an average. And then if those people get infected, how many people do those infect?

So, you might have an R naught of 6 for COVID-19. But then you have to think about that 1 person who infects 6 people. Each of those people affect an average of 6 so 6 times 6…that’s 36 and then imagine they each infect another 6 people. You can see if you do the multiplication that number grows very fast. If we can have people change their behavior in a way that reduces the number of people they infect then you can greatly reduce–even if only one of those initial 6 reduces–that still reduces the number by a dramatic amount and if we all work together we can actually prevent this virus from spreading.

The R naught isn’t for any particular person. It’s really a statistical term. So, it doesn’t really apply to individuals. But the concept…if we all collectively do the things we need to do to stop the spread we could actually in the whole population cause the virus to go away. And that’s why I said that if we in the community can get the R naught under 1 that means the virus is slowly going away.

Gillis: Yeah. It’s interesting that it’s an average. For some individuals or communities it may be higher, but for others it’s much lower and we want to get to that point where it’s less than 1.

News 8’s medical reporter, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Gillis, D.Ed., is a classically trained medical physiologist and biobehavioral research scientist. She has been a health, medical and science reporter for over 5 years. Her work has been featured in national media outlets. You can follow her on Instagram @reportergillis and Facebook @DrMaryGillis.

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Indiana coronavirus timeline

With information from the Indiana Department of Health through Jan. 19, 2021, this timeline reflects updated tallies of deaths and positive tests prior to that date.

  • March 6, 2020: Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) confirms the first case in Indiana. Officials say the Marion County resident had recently traveled to Boston to attend a BioGen conference as a contractor.
  • March 8: ISDH confirms a second case. An adult in Hendricks County who had also traveled to the BioGen conference was placed in isolation. Noblesville Schools say a parent and that parent’s children will be self-quarantining after attending an out-of-state event where someone else tested positive.
  • March 9: Avon Community School Corp. says a student on March 8 tested positive.
  • March 10: ISDH launches an online tracker. Ball State University basketball fans learn the Mid-American Conference tourney will have no fans in the stands. Three businesses operating nursing homes in Indiana announce they will no longer allow visitors.
  • March 11: The Indianapolis-based NCAA announces the Final Four basketball tournaments will be conducted with essential staff and limited family attendance. The Big Ten announces all sports events, including the men’s basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, will have no fans starting March 12. Ball State University suspends in-person classes the rest of the spring semester. NBA suspends all games, including the Indiana Pacers, until further notice. Butler University and the University of Indianapolis extend spring break, after which they will have virtual classes.
  • March 12: Gov. Eric Holcomb announces new protections that led to extended public school closings and the cancellation of large events across the state. The NCAA cancels its basketball tournaments. The Big Ten suspends all sporting events through the winter and spring seasons. The league including the Indy Fuel hockey team suspends its season. Indy Eleven says it will reschedule four matches. Indianapolis’ annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is canceled. 
  • March 13: The Indiana High School Athletic Association postpones the boys basketball tournament. Wayzata Home Products, a Connersville cabinet maker, shuts down and lays off its entire workforce due to market uncertainty. Gov. Holcomb announces actions including the elimination of Medicaid co-pays for COVID-19 testing and the lifting of limits on the number of work hours per day for drivers of commercial vehicles. Franklin College says it will begin online classes March 18 and empty residence halls of students in two days. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis closes indefinitely. The Indianapolis Public Library joins other libraries across Indiana and closes all facilities indefinitely.
  • March 14: The Indiana Gaming Commission says all licensed gaming and racing operations will close in two days for an indefinite period.
  • March 15: Indiana had its first death. St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis announces it will suspend all elective, non-urgent surgeries.
  • March 16: Indiana had its second death. Gov. Holcomb announced the first Hoosier death. He closes bars, restaurants and nightclubs to in-person patrons, but maintains carryout and delivery services.
  • March 17: Indiana had its third and fourth deaths. ISDH announces Indiana’s second death. Indiana’s Catholic bishops cancel masses indefinitely. Gov. Holcomb activates the National Guard. Purdue, Butler and Indiana State universities cancel May commencement ceremonies.
  • March 18: Indiana had its fifth death. Eli Lilly and Co. says it will use its labs to speed up testing in Indiana. The 500 Festival suspends all events. Simon Property Group closes all malls and retail properties.
  • March 19: Gov. Holcomb extends Indiana’s state of emergency into May. Holcomb says he’ll close all K-12 public and nonpublic schools. Standardized testing was canceled. The state’s income-tax and corporate-tax payment deadline was extended to July 15. Holcomb says the state will waive job search requirements for people applying for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. The IHSAA Boys Basketball State Tournament was canceled. The Marion County Emergency Operations Center upgrades to Level 1 status.
  • March 20: Indiana’s death toll rose to 9. ISDH announces Indiana’s third death. Gov. Holcomb moves the state’s primary election to June 2. Indiana University says it is postponing May commencement ceremonies on all campuses.
  • March 21: Indiana’s death toll rises to 14. ISDH announces Indiana’s fourth death. Indiana National Guard says it and the Department of Transportation are distributing medical supplies to hospitals.
  • March 22: Indiana’s death toll rises to 19. ISDH announces seven deaths.
  • March 23: Indiana’s death toll rises to 24. Holcomb orders Hoosiers deemed nonessential to “stay at home” from March 24-April 7. Eli Lilly & Co. begins drive-thru testing for the coronavirus for health care workers with a doctor’s order. Ball State University cancels the May commencement.
  • March 24: Indiana’s death toll rises to 29. Fred Payne of Indiana Workforce Development says any Hoosiers out of work, including temporary layoffs, are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits.
  • March 25: Indiana’s death toll rises to 35. Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Indianapolis 500 is moved to Aug. 23.
  • March 26: Indiana’s death toll rises to 44.
  • March 27: Indiana’s death toll rises to 47.
  • March 28: Indiana’s death toll rises to 58.
  • March 29: Indiana’s death toll rises to 76.
  • March 30: Indiana’s death toll rises to 91.
  • March 31: Indiana’s death toll rises above 100, to 113. Gov. Holcomb extends the limits of bars and restaurants to offer only “to go” and “carryout” through April 6. Indiana health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, asked about when Indiana will be in a surge of COVID-19 cases, says she thinks the surge is starting.
  • April 1: Officials extend Marion County’s “stay at home” order through May 1. Marion County health officials say they will start COVID-19 testing services for front-line employees.
  • April 2: The state announces K-12 schools will be closed for the rest of the school year. The Indiana High School Athletic Association cancels spring sports seasons.
  • April 3: Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. The state receives a federal Major Disaster Declaration for all 92 counties. The Indiana National Guard says it, the Army Corps of Engineers and state health officials will begin to assess sites for alternate health care facilities.
  • April 4: Indiana’s death toll rises above 200.
  • April 6: The state reports a Madison County nursing home has had 11 deaths. Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order through April 20. He also limits additional businesses to carry-out only.
  • April 7: Indiana’s death toll rises above 300. Indiana health commissioner Box says four long-term care facilities have 22 deaths that appear to be related to COVID-19.
  • April 10: ISDH said 24 residents of a long-term care facility in Madison County have died from COVID-related illness.
  • April 11: Indiana’s death toll rises above 400.
  • April 14: Indiana’s death toll rises above 500.
  • April 16: Indiana records more than 10,000 positive coronavirus tests. The governor says he expects Indiana to experience a reopening in early May.
  • April 17: Indiana’s death toll rises above 600. The governor says that he will extend the “stay at home” order through May 1.
  • April 20: Indiana’s death toll rises above 700. Gov. Holcomb extends the “stay at home” order to May 1. The governor also says, if the medical supply chain is in good shape, other elective medical procedures can resume April 27.
  • April 22: Indiana’s death toll rises above 800. The Tyson facility in Logansport voluntarily closes so 2,200 employees can be tested for COVID-19.
  • April 24: Indiana’s death toll rises above 900. The Indianapolis City-County Council approves $25 million to help small businesses. Fishers City Council creates a city health department with a plan to test every resident.
  • April 25: ISDH says it will launch an antibody testing study for Hoosiers; thousands of residents were randomly selected to participate in the study.
  • April 27: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,000.
  • April 28: Indiana officials say they will open COVID-19 testing to more Hoosiers, with expanded criteria and new testing services at 20 sites around the state.
  • April 29: The state says it will spent $43 million on contact tracing.
  • April 30: Indianapolis extends its stay-at-home order through May 15.
  • May 1: Gov. Holcomb announces a phased reopening plan for the state of Indiana. He also extends the stay-at-home order to May 4.
  • May 3: Indiana records more than 20,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • May 4: Indiana enters Stage 2 of its Back on Track plan, which excludes Cass County until May 18, and Lake and Marion counties until May 11.
  • May 6:The state begins testing for all Hoosiers at 20 sites, with plans to expand the number of sites to 50 in a week. Ivy Tech Community College says it will continue virtual classes when summer courses begin in June. 
  • May 8: Cris Johnston, director of the Office of Budget and Management, says the state missed out on nearly $1 billion in anticipated April revenues; all state agencies will be given budget-cutting goals. Purdue University OKs plans to reopen for the fall semester with social distancing and other safety measures.
  • May 10: Indiana’s death toll rises above 1,500.
  • May 13: The first phase of a state-sponsored study of the coronavirus estimated about 186,000 Hoosiers had COVID-19 or the antibodies for the novel virus by May 1. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced plans for limited reopenings of worship services, retail establishments, libraries and restaurants.
  • May 15: Simon Property Group reopens Castleton Square Mall, Circle Centre Mall, and Fashion Mall at Keystone
  • May 18: Indiana reports its first case of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in a child. The Farbest Foods turkey-processing plant in Huntingburg is closed for three days; 91 people had tested positive there.
  • May 21: Indiana records more than 30,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • May 22: Indiana advances to Stage 3 of the Back on Track reopening plan. Indianapolis closes portions of five streets to allow restaurants to reopen with outdoor dining only.
  • May 27: Indiana University says the fall semester will have in-person and online courses, plus an adjusted calendar through May 2021. Ball State University says the fall semester will be 13 straight weeks of in-person classes with no day off on Labor Day and no fall break.
  • May 28: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,000.
  • May 29: Places of worship in Marion County can begin holding indoor services at 50% capacity with proper social distancing. Jim Schellinger, Indiana secretary of commerce, said the federal Paycheck Protection Program has made 73,430 loans in Indiana totaling $9,379,164,461, the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loan program has made 5,070 loans in Indiana totaling $445,428,500, and the federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans Advance program has made 38,365 grants in Indiana totaling $136,554,000.
  • June 1: Marion County restaurants begins serving customers indoors and outdoors with 50% capacity. Marion County salons, tattoo parlors reopen by appointment only. Marion County gyms, fitness centers and pools reopen with 50% capacity and no contact sports. However, a Marion County curfew that began the night of May 31 and continued into the morning of June 3 after rioting impacted the reopening of some businesses.
  • June 3: Phase 2 of statewide testing of random Hoosiers by the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI and the Indiana State Department of Health begins.
  • June 5: Indiana reports May tax revenues were 20% short of projections made before the coronavirus closings started.
  • June 8: Indianapolis leaders agree to spend $79 million in coronavirus relief funding on contact tracing, rent relief, personal protective equipment and support for small businesses.
  • June 12: Indiana, excluding Marion County, advances to Stage 4 of reopening plan.
  • June 15: Casinos and parimutuel racing reopen in the state. Marion County’s public libraries begin a phased reopening.
  • June 19: Marion County advances to Stage 4 of state’s reopening plan.
  • June 24: The governor says the state’s moratorium on the eviction on renters will be extended through July. Indiana announces it will create a rental assistance program July 13. Indiana Pacers guard Malcolm Brogdon says he has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • June 27: Indiana hospitalizations for COVID-19 begin to increase, with about 33 new patients a day through July 1.
  • July 1: Indiana’s death toll rises above 2,500. The governor pauses Stage 5 final reopening plan, announces Stage 4.5 from July 4-17.
  • July 4: Indiana’s Stage 4.5 reopening plan begins.
  • July 9: Indiana records more than 50,000 positive coronavirus tests. Marion County mandates mask-wearing.
  • July 10: Indianapolis Public Schools announces its reopening plans.
  • July 11: Indy Eleven resumes 2020 season with victory at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis reopens.
  • July 13: Indiana begins rental assistance program for all counties but Marion County. Marion County begins its own rental assistance program.
  • July 15: Indiana announces the Stage 4.5 reopening plan will continue another two weeks. The WNBA season begins.
  • July 16: Indianapolis suspends applications for its rental assistance program due to overwhelming demand.
  • July 24: Bars, taverns and nightclubs in Indianapolis are shut down again. City officials also return to other previous restrictions.
  • July 25: Indiana Fever begins WNBA season after delays.
  • July 27: Indiana governor’s order to wear face coverings begins. Great Lakes Valley Conference, which including University of Indianapolis, postpones most fall sports, including football, men’s and women’s soccer, and volleyball, until spring.
  • July 30: NBA season resumes.
  • Aug. 4: Indianapolis Motor Speedway announces the Aug. 23 Indianapolis 500 will be run without fans.
  • Aug. 5: With more than 1,000 positive tests reported in a single day, Indiana jumps to a total of 70,993 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Aug. 10: Indiana records more than 75,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Aug. 17: Indianapolis Public Schools restarts with online-only classes. News 8 learns the 2021 NBA All-Star Game will not happen on Presidents Day weekend in 2021.
  • Aug. 20: Indiana’s death toll rises above 3,000. Purdue University suspends 36 students after a party at a co-op.
  • Aug. 21: Indiana high school football season begins with some teams not playing due to COVID-19 concerns.
  • Aug. 23: Butler University tells undergraduates that instruction will occur remotely for the first two weeks of the semester, starting Aug. 24, instead of in classrooms.
  • Aug. 24: Purdue, Indiana, IUPUI and Ball State universities resume in-person classes.
  • Aug. 25: Reports say a fraternity, a sorority and a cooperative house at Purdue University are under quarantines.
  • Aug. 26: Gov. Holcomb extends the mask mandate through Sept. 25. Indiana’s rental assistance program will take applications for one last day.
  • Aug. 27: Indiana University says eight Greek houses are under 14-day quarantines.
  • Sept. 2: Indiana University tells 30 Greek houses in Bloomington to quarantine.
  • Sept. 6: Indiana records more than 100,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Sept. 8: Marion County allows bars and nightclubs to reopen with 25% capacity indoors and 50% capacity outdoors.
  • Sept. 12: The Indianapolis Colts open their season with a loss in a Jacksonville stadium with a limited number of fans.
  • Sept. 21: The Indianapolis Colts home opener is limited to 2,500 fans.
  • Sept. 23: Gov. Eric Holcomb extends the mask mandate through Oct. 17.
  • Sept. 24: The state’s mask mandate is extended through Oct. 17.
  • Sept. 25: The Mid-American Conference announces it will start a six-game football season Nov. 4, with the championship game Dec. 18 or 19.
  • Sept. 26: Indiana advances to a revised Stage 5 of Indiana Back on Track plan with relaxed limits on gatherings, restaurants, bars, nightclubs and more. Marion, Monroe and Tippecanoe counties decided to have more restrictive limits, however.
  • Sept. 27: The Indianapolis Colts second home game is limited to 7,500 fans.
  • Sept. 28: Purdue University says it’s suspended 14 students, including 13 student-athletes, for violations of a pledge designed to curb the coronavirus pandemic on campus.
  • Sept. 30: The Indiana State Department of Health’s online coronavirus dashboard began showing data on positive coronavirus cases in Indiana schools.
  • Oct. 1: IU’s website shows two additional fraternities and a sorority at the Bloomington campus have been issued “cease and desist” orders.
  • Oct. 2: Franklin College suspends classes and moves to virtual education and activities through Oct. 9 after a “concerning and unusual” increase in the positivity rate for COVID-19.
  • Oct. 3: Indiana records more than 125,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Oct. 4: Indiana’s death toll rises above 3,500.
  • Oct. 12: Franklin College returns to in-person classes.
  • Oct. 13: Indianapolis-based drugmaker Lilly pauses its trial of a combination antibody treatment for coronavirus for safety reasons.
  • Oct. 14: Indiana health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announces she has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Oct. 15: Gov. Holcomb issues executive order to extend mask mandate and Stage 5 reopening plan.
  • Oct. 18: The Indianapolis Colts third home game was limited to 12,500 fans.
  • Oct. 19: Indiana records more than 150,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Oct. 23: The Big Ten begins its football season.
  • Oct. 26: Indiana’s death toll rises above 4,000.
  • Oct. 29: Indiana records more than 175,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Oct. 30: Gov. Holcomb extends the public health emergency through Dec. 1.
  • Nov. 1: Indiana National Guard to begin deploying to long-term care facilities to provide coronavirus assistance.
  • The Mid-American Conference football teams begins its six-game regular season.
  • Nov. 5: Indiana records more than 200,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Nov. 8: The Indianapolis Colts fourth home game was limited to 12,500 fans.
  • Nov. 9: Indiana’s death toll rises above 4,500.
  • Nov. 12: Indianapolis calls for schools to go to virtual learning by Nov. 30.
  • Nov. 14: Indiana records more than 251,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Nov. 15: Indiana adds coronavirus-control restrictions for all businesses and gatherings in counties with the highest number of new cases as part of an update to the statewide COVID-19 pandemic response.
  • Nov. 16: Indianapolis limits capacity inside bars, private clubs, fraternal organizations and gyms to 25%; inside restaurants, libraries, funeral homes, swimming pools and shopping malls’ food courts to 50%; and inside religious services to 75%. Marion County Health Department requires preregistration for COVID-19 testing after increased demand at three drive-thru locations.
  • Nov. 18: Indiana records more than 275,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Nov. 20: Indiana’s death toll rises above 5,000.
  • Nov. 22: Indiana records more than 300,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Nov. 23: Indianapolis Public Schools returns to virtual learning through Jan. 18.
  • Nov. 24: The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball seasons begin; some games had no fans in the stands.
  • Nov. 26: Butler University men’s basketball cancels Nov. 29 game against Eastern Illinois after a positive COVID-19 test.
  • Nov. 27: Indiana’s death toll rises above 5,500.
  • Nov. 28: Butler University men’s basketball team postponed two more games because of a positive COVID-19 test.
  • Dec. 1: Indiana records more than 350,000 positive coronavirus tests. Bankers Life Fieldhouse hosts its first NCAA men’s basketball game, Kansas vs. Kentucky, since the start of the pandemic.
  • Dec. 2: Indianapolis ends its rental assistance program.
  • Dec. 4: Indiana’s death toll rises above 6,000.
  • Dec. 5: The men’s basketball game of No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2, Baylor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse is postponed 90 minutes before tipoff after two Bulldogs test positive.
  • Dec. 9: Indiana records more than 404,000 positive coronavirus tests. Gov. Holcomb says virus restrictions will now by county based on ratings that show the local virus spread. Indiana and Purdue universities cancel the Old Oaken Bucket football game set for Dec. 12.
  • Dec. 10: Indiana’s death toll rises above 6,500. Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Dec. 11: The Pacers lose to the Cavaliers as the NBA preseason begins. The Carmel Walmart in Westfield closes for nearly two days to sanitize the store.
  • Dec. 12: Ball State University President Geoffrey Mearns tests positive for the coronavirus.
  • Dec. 14: Health care workers receive the first coronavirus vaccinations in Indiana.
  • Dec. 15: Vice President Mike Pence holds a roundtable in Bloomington at pharmaceutical maker Catalent on the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Indiana and Purdue again cancel the Old Oaken Bucket football game that’d been reset for Dec. 18.
  • Dec. 16: Indiana’s death toll rises above 7,000.
  • Dec. 17: Indiana records more than 452,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Dec. 20: The Indianapolis Colts allows up to 10,000 attendees at Lucas Oil Stadium for the team’s game against the Houston Texans.
  • Dec. 22: Indiana’s death toll rises above 7,500. Indiana records more than 476,000 positive coronavirus tests. NBA starts league’s 75th season, delayed and shortened to a 72-game schedule because of the pandemic.
  • Dec. 23: In response to the high volume of unemployment claims, Holcomb extends the suspension of certain requirements to expedite the hiring and training of temporary workers to more quickly resolve unemployment issues. Indiana Pacers to host first home game against New York Knicks with no fans present.
  • Dec. 28: Indiana records more than 500,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Dec. 29: Indiana’s death toll rises above 8,000.
  • Dec. 31: Indiana’s death toll for 2020 is 8,164.
  • Jan. 1, 2021: Indiana’s death toll rises above 8,200.
  • Jan. 2: Indiana records more than 526,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Jan. 3: The Indianapolis Colts allow 10,000 attendees at Lucas Oil Stadium for the team’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  • Jan. 4: Grades 1-12 schools in Marion County are allowed reopen to in-person learning. Perry Township Schools is the only district to reopen to in-person learning.
  • Jan. 5: Purdue and Nebraska postpone a men’s basketball game over health and safety concerns.
  • Jan. 6: Indiana’s death toll rises above 8,500.
  • Jan. 7: Indiana records more than 552,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Jan. 8: Hoosiers 80 and older start receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
  • Jan. 13: Indiana records more than 578,000 positive coronavirus tests. Hoosiers 70 and older start receiving the coronavirus vaccine.
  • Jan. 15: Indiana’s death toll rises above 9,000. Indiana records more than 586,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Jan. 17: Indiana’s death toll rises above 9,100. Indiana records more than 592,000 positive coronavirus tests.
  • Jan. 18: NFL announces the scouting combine will not happen in Indianapolis in February.
  • Jan. 20: Indiana’s death toll rises above 9,200. Indiana records more than 601,000 positive coronavirus tests. Indiana Pacers host up to 1,000 fans at a game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse for first time since pandemic began.
  • Jan. 24: Holcomb’s emergency declaration and mask mandate set to end.
  • Feb. 28: Indiana National Guardsmen to end assistance to long-term care facilities.
  • March 18: NCAA men’s March Madness games, all of them at venues in Indianapolis, Bloomington and West Lafayette, to start.

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