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Testing project finds Indiana has fewer coronavirus cases than a month ago

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The number of active cases of coronavirus is down dramatically in Indiana, from about 1 in 58 Hoosiers with an active case last month to 1 in 166 Hoosiers earlier this month.

That’s one of the key takeaways from the latest randomized testing statewide.

Wednesday was the much-anticipated release of Round 2 of targeted coronavirus testing Wednesday afternoon, something that’s not been done by any other state, Indiana officials and researchers said.

Nir Menachemi, chair of Health Policy and Management at the IU Fairbanks School, said, “This is evidence that the virus has slowed its spread in our state.”

The lead scientist in the testing program revealing that five days of testing earlier this month found 0.6% of Hoosiers had active cases of coronavirus and another 1.5% had antibodies, meaning they’d already had COVID-19 even if they didn’t know it.

The results were a flip-flop from testing in May, which showed 1.7% had active cases and 1.1% had antibodies, for a total of 2.8% of Hoosiers affected.

“It was nice to see evidence of the slowdown of the virus in Wave 2 compared to Wave 1.”

But, those numbers also present a challenge. Using Phase 1 testing, one would expect at least 2.8% of Hoosiers with antibodies by now, but the study found just 1.5%.

“It’s not just numbers, but it’s the ‘why we don’t participate,’ which is more important.”

About a thousand more randomized Hoosiers participated in Phase 1 compared to Phase 2. If those who didn’t participate did so because they already knew they had the virus, that could provide an important clue, especially with testing now available statewide to anyone who wants to get a test unlike in weeks past.

“In many ways, this is something that is probably good, it means people are getting access to testing elsewhere.”

While a deep dive into those numbers and that hypothesis is already underway, for now it’s just a guess. Menachemi says the most important takeaway is the trend: more people with antibodies and fewer people with active cases.

“Everything we reported is scientifically sound given what we know.”

Menachemi also had a warning: “We should be reminded by the experiences of other states that the virus can still be transmitted if we’re not careful.”

Testing for Phase 3 will be in fall 2020 and for the final wave, Phase 4, will be in spring 2021.