More than one in 10 Hoosiers have contracted the COVID-19 virus since March, according to new data estimates shared Wednesday by the Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI.
Speaking during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s weekly briefing, Fairbanks officials said about 10.6% of the state’s residents have been infected by the virus—an increase from the 7.8% that was discerned from data collected through Oct. 3, in the third phase of the group’s study.
“We now know that and we have evidence to suggest that an increase in infections among younger Hoosiers quickly translates into more infections and thus more deaths among older Hoosiers,” said Dr. Nir Menachemi, endowed chair in the department of health policy and management at the Fairbanks school.
“This is exactly what is occurring right now to explain the increase in reported deaths and the strains on our hospitals.”
Fairbanks officials did not indicate how many people were included in the school’s latest wave of tests, which are conducted through random sampling across the state.
Menachemi said at current rates, another 13,000 Hoosiers could die before the state achieves herd immunity—which would entail about 70% of state residents becoming infected and possessing antibodies—without help from a vaccine. About 40% of those who contract COVID-19 are asymptomatic, the study found.
“Pushing to achieve herd immunity without a vaccine simply risks losing many lives in and outside of nursing homes,” he said.
IBJ reported in May that an initial Fairbanks study found about 186,000 Indiana residents had likely had the virus
The new findings also indicate an overall death rate of about 0.26%, but that percentage is closer to 2.3% among citizens ages 65 and older.
Menachemi said the approaches recommended at the state and federal levels to reduce the spread of the virus, such as social distancing and constant wearing of face coverings, “are also the things that we can do to protect our economy.”
The Fairbanks school has worked closely with state officials in an advisory role for several months, supplying data as Holcomb and State Health Commissioner Kristina Box determine ways to reduce community spread of COVID-19 and draft public health policy.