Schools not reporting COVID numbers, health leaders trying to get more COVID testing in schools

INDIANA – Indiana health officials said Friday, the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths will continue to rise in Indiana as the delta variant surges across the country if people do not get vaccinated and wear masks.

Left to right – Dr. Lindsay Weave and Dr. Kristina Box

“Layered mitigation is the answer to this,” Dr. Kristina Box, the Indiana Department of Health’s commissioner, said during the state’s COVID-19 update.

Layered mitigation for Hoosiers of all ages, according to Dr. Box, should include getting the COVID-19 vaccine, if eligible, and mask-wearing when in large groups indoors, specially students and teachers.

Dr. Box says they’re seeing a rise in children who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine being hospitalized with the virus.

Under Indiana Code, Dr. Box stated, schools are supposed to report COVID-19 cases in a mass setting. But it’s clear that schools are not reporting COVID-19 cases to the state as required.

“We do know because we get lots of calls from school nurses, from parents, from other concerned individuals in communities, that there are many students being quarantined sometimes but not positive cases reported,” said Dr. Box. “And other times, even individuals that are positive, if they’re asymptomatic, are being allowed to come to school. And those are not being reported to us. So, we are working very closely with our schools when that happens, and reaching out directly to them, and discussing the importance of reporting these cases, so that the appropriate number of students can be quarantined and we can decrease, hopefully, the transmission within the schools.”

Dr. Box said the state’s trying to get more testing in schools, including offering what’s called BinaxNOW rapid tests.

“These rapid tests can quickly assess whether a student’s symptoms are COVID or not. This can help reduce the quarantine and help keep our children in school when they’re healthy enough to be there,” said Box.

Indiana Department of Health’s chief medical officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver, expressed her disappointment that nearly half of eligible people who can get vaccinated in Indiana have not. Exactly 48 percent of Hoosiers are unvaccinated as of Friday.

Dr. Weaver says this allows the delta variant which makes up 98 percent of hospitalized Hoosiers to thrive.

Both Dr. Box and Dr. Weaver expressed that people should NOT take Ivermectin – a drug veterinarians use to cure parasitic infections in large animals.

“Don’t take medicine that’s prescribed for animals,” Dr. Box said simply.

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