Nearly 100 additional coronavirus testing sites are planned across Indiana by the end of this month, state officials announced Wednesday.
Health officials added 17 more coronavirus-related deaths to the state’s toll as updated statewide COVID-19 risk ratings listed most counties with minimal or moderate virus spread.
New testing sites
The state has awarded $30 million over the next two years from federal coronavirus funding to 76 county health departments for the new testing sites, said Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner. About three dozen sites will be open by the end of this week, with a total of 95 scheduled to be in operation by Oct. 1.
Box said the new sites are meant to provide testing in addition to the 39 testing locations operated by OptumServe under a state contract awarded in May.
The new sites should be conducting 100 to 200 free tests a day, Box said.
“Eventually, the goal will be to run (the testing costs) through insurance companies because a lot of people are insured, but we will not be turning away anyone that is uninsured or does not have the ability to pay for a test,” Box said.
The state health department released its first county-by-county risk map last week and Wednesday’s updated version showed slight improvement across the state. Martin County in rural southwestern Indiana, which was the only county with a highest-risk red rating last week, improved to the orange rating of moderate to high spread.
It is among seven counties with the orange rating — the same number as a week earlier. Those include Bloomington’s Monroe County, Muncie’s Delaware County and Terre Haute’s Vigo County.
The remaining 85 counties received yellow or blue ratings based on the number of new cases per 100,000 residents and the percentage of tests confirming COVID-19 infections.
When asked whether the ratings could give the public a false sense of security, Box said they can show whether a county risk is moving in the wrong direction, allowing local health officials to take action.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said the ratings combine information in a map that is easy for the public to understand.
“These serve as a radar,” Holcomb said.
Indiana’s newly recorded fatalities raise the state’s death toll to 3,397, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus cases, according to the state health department. The new deaths occurred over the past week.