Indiana Daily Student

Indiana to send PPE, staff to long-term care facilities 

<p>Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks during a press conference with Dr. Lindsay Weaver on Wednesday online. Weaver, chief medical officer for Indiana’s department of health, outlined the state’s five-step plan to address the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities at Holcomb’s press conference Wednesday afternoon.</p>

Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks during a press conference with Dr. Lindsay Weaver on Wednesday online. Weaver, chief medical officer for Indiana’s department of health, outlined the state’s five-step plan to address the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities at Holcomb’s press conference Wednesday afternoon.

Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for Indiana’s department of health, outlined the state’s five-step plan to address the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities at Gov. Eric Holcomb’s press conference Tuesday afternoon.

The state wants to target its efforts on these facilities because they have accounted for 2,205 COVID-19 deaths, which is 58% of Indiana deaths since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Weaver said.

The first step in the plan, which will start Nov. 1, is to send members of the Indiana National Guard to all facilities to assist with testing, reporting test results, screening employees and conducting simple infection control processes, Weaver said.

The second step is to put more members of the health care reserve workforce to work as clinical staff for these long-term care facilities. The health care reserve force is a group of people who previously worked in health care and volunteered to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The third step is to send two million N95 masks, 400,000 face shields and 680,000 gowns to these facilities. 

The fourth step is to require the facilities to teach their employees the infection control training developed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

The fifth step is to reduce the amount of people returning to the facilities after a hospital visit. Medicaid eligible patients will be immediately discharged to in-home rehabilitation if possible. Indiana is now piloting a program that allows them to quickly assess and provide individuals with home, community-based services, Weaver said.

“As part of the public health emergency, we want to make sure that everyone who qualifies for home service can get them quickly,” she said. “Through the simplified process, what traditionally can take weeks can now be done in a few days.”

Through this program, 20 Hoosiers were able to return home in the past week, Weaver said.

Weaver also said as of Monday, 1,484 Hoosiers were hospitalized with COVID-19, which is twice as many Hoosiers hospitalized compared to late June or early July.

“We continue to see more than 100 people a day being admitted with symptoms of COVID,” Weaver said.

During the press conference, Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana’s state health commissioner, updated people on her and her family’s COVID-19 situation. She said while she, her grandson, her daughter and, now, her daughter-in-law are still suffering from COVID-19 symptoms, they are experiencing mild cases and all family members are quarantined.

Box addressed some individuals who have claimed her illness is an example of how masks and social distancing don’t work. She said her case is actually an example of how masks and social distancing can prevent spread, because no one at her work, where she has been frequently in the past few months, tested positive.

“The only way I got infected was when I let my guard down, which I have done since the beginning of this pandemic in my social bubble,” she said. “I think my case is actually a true testament to the fact that with all my exposure at work for these past eight months, and even in that 48 hours before I got sick, that social distancing and wearing my mask did make a difference.”

During the meeting, Holcomb said he is not moving the state back from stage five of his Back on Track Indiana COVID-19 plan.

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