Indiana COVID-19 deaths surpass 100; prisons, 29 nursing homes affected

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More than 100 people have died of coronavirus in Indiana, the state Department of Health reported Friday morning, a day after officials confirmed that residents at 29 Indiana nursing homes have been diagnosed with COVID-19, as had inmates at an unspecified number of correctional facilities.

Twenty-three more coronavirus-related deaths were reported as of Friday morning, raising the state’s virus death toll to 101. Roughly 400 new cases were reported as the total number of positive tests reported to the Health Department climbed to 3,437. Just seven of Indiana’s 92 counties have yet to report a positive test.

At least 16,900 people in Indiana have been tested, the Health Department said, an increase of just 615 from Thursday’s daily report. Officials note this number is provisional and reflects only the number of tests that have been reported to the department.

Marion County, Indianapolis, had 125 of the state’s new coronavirus cases reported Friday, with 1,429 reported positive tests. A total of 33 people have died from the virus in Marion County, an increase of nine from Thursday.

Deaths also have been reported in these counties: Allen (2), Clark (2), Dearborn (1), Decatur (4), Delaware (1), Elkhart (3), Fayette (2), Fountain (1), Franklin (6), Hamilton (4), Hancock (2), Hendricks (1), Howard (2), Huntington (1), Jasper (1), Johnson (4), Lake (7), LaPorte (1), Lawrence (4), Madison (7), Morgan (1), Putnam (1), Ripley (1), St. Joseph (1), Scott (1), Tippecanoe (1), Vigo (2) and Warren (1).

In addition to Marion County, every county in the Indianapolis area has at least 26 positive cases: Hamilton (220), Johnson (136), Hendricks (138), Boone (38), Hancock (41), Madison (67), Morgan (52) and Shelby (26).

Outside central Indiana, counties with 26 or more cases include Lake (244), St. Joseph (72), Decatur (70), Allen (58), Clark (55), Franklin (48), Ripley (47), Porter (45), Monroe (40), Floyd (37), Vanderburgh (33), Delaware (30), Elkhart (29) and Tippecanoe (26).

Officials said Thursday that nursing homes and prisons have been particularly hard hit. Both types of locations are considered serious in a pandemic because the virus can spread quickly in confined spaces. In addition, elderly people in nursing homes or prisons with underlying medical conditions are considered especially vulnerable if they are infected.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said 76 people have tested positive in 29 nursing homes in recent days. The number includes both residents and workers, she said. She did not identify the nursing homes.

On Wednesday, a Franklin retirement community, Otterbein Franklin SeniorLife, announced that an 87-year-old resident died of COVID-19 after being taken to the hospital last week. The deceased was only identified as a woman who had lived at Otterbein Franklin SeniorLife Community who was taken to the hospital last week with issues from a pre-existing condition.

The senior community initially was hit with an outbreak of COVID-19 on March 29, when eight residents tested positive, along with a nurse and therapist. On Sunday, the community said seven more residents tested positive, bringing the total to 15 in less than a week.

The Indiana State Department of Health has created regional strike teams that travel to nursing homes to help with COVID-19 responses.

Box did not offer details on what the health department strike teams have been doing. But she said they had also visited state prisons to care for “infected individuals.” She did not say how many prisoners or corrections workers have been diagnosed.

“We’re working closely also with our long-term care partners with the Department of Correction to take appropriate steps to care for infected individuals and limit the spread of COVID-19 within those institutions,” she said. “They include cohorting positive individuals in one location or making alternative housing arrangements when necessary.”

Box did not say which prisons had been infected, or how many inmates or corrections workers had tested positive.

Just last Friday, Rob Carter, superintendent of the Indiana Department of Correction, said no prisoners had tested positive, but he did not say how many prisoners, if any, had been tested. Box said Thursday that health department workers were busy trying to manage the situation.

“Our strike teams continue to visit long-term care facilities and correctional facilities across the state,” she said.

The Indiana Department of Health is providing daily COVID-19 updates online. 

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