By Leah Sander
INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana will provide more assistance to long-term care facilities in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That was one of the main topics of discussion during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s weekly COVID-19 press conference on Wednesday, Oct. 21.
Holcomb said he plans to deploy the Indiana National Guard to nursing homes and the like to assist staff with training on safety protocols, data entry and whatever else they need help with to ease some of the strain staff have felt during the pandemic.
He and Indiana Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver spoke about some of the “disproportionate impact” the pandemic’s had on senior citizens.
They cited figures that 55% of all deaths in Indiana from the pandemic have been those in long-term care facilities. The state has been conducting a review of long-term facilities to see that they’re aware of safety protocols during the pandemic. That review is set to wrap up this week.
Along with the National Guard, the state is also sending out health care workers who’ve volunteered to assist overwhelmed care facilities. These volunteer workers include those who are retired or otherwise available to help.
Holcomb also said the state is providing resources for those who’ve been released from a hospital for non-COVID related health problems to have access to home health care.
That will keep those people from being sent to a long-term care facility where they are more at risk of contracting COVID-19.
The state is also sending additional personal protective equipment to long-term care facilities, including two million N95 masks.
Dr. Box Update
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box also spoke briefly during the conference.
She called in remotely after recently testing positive for COVID-19. She said she’s recovering from mild symptoms including fatigue, a cough and a runny nose.
She said her daughter and grandson, who also had it, are recovering as well. Her daughter-in-law also is recovering after contracting it.
She said a few others she was in contact with before she knew she tested positive have not contracted the disease. She attributes that to her social distancing from them and wearing a mask. Also, she said nobody else at the daycare her grandson attends caught the virus other than her grandson and the two daycare workers there who first got the disease.
She attributed that to COVID-19 safety practices being followed properly.
Holcomb also said the state submitted a plan for distributing a future vaccine to the CDC on Oct. 16. The plan is for the vaccine to be distributed in waves, starting with health care workers and those most likely to be at risk of dying from COVID-19. He said any vaccine is still awhile off.
In other points of note from the press conference:
- In response to a reporter’s question, Holcomb said he is tentatively planning to attend a political rally in Fort Wayne Friday with Vice President Mike Pence. He said he plans to socially distance and wear a mask when that’s not possible. He also is to be tested for COVID-19 beforehand and follow other coronavirus safety protocols for being near Pence.
- Holcomb also said there will be no Halloween event at the governor’s mansion this year. There might be one planned for later on.