Indiana's virus testing falling short on sites, results

MGN Image, MGN Graphics
MGN Image, MGN Graphics

Indiana’s state-sponsored coronavirus testing program has not been meeting the levels of testing or the speed of results that were touted when it was started in May.

Posted: Jul 16, 2020 9:26 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s state-sponsored coronavirus testing program has not been meeting the levels of testing or the speed of results that were touted when it was started in May.

State contractor OptumServe Health Services was expected to have 50 testing sites operating around Indiana by the end of May, providing 100,000 free tests a month and providing results within an average of 48 hours, state officials said.

The state health commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, said Wednesday that the company had 35 testing sites open, with results averaging 59 hours and sometimes up to 80 hours to become available. The program’s online registration site warns that it could take four to six days for results.

Box blamed the slower-than-expected results on a national increase in demand for test processing and supplies as the number of COVID-19 cases has surged in Indiana and other states, many of which aggressively lifted virus restrictions to reopen their economies.

“These are external factors that are beyond our control,” Box said.

OptumServe, which is a division of insurance giant UnitedHealth Group, has closed some testing sites because they were located in schools that are now preparing to reopen for students or were in non-air conditioned locations during recent hot weather, Box said.

The company has performed about 102,000 tests for the public at its sites, she said. That means OptumServe has just recently passed the 100,000 test mark that it had been expected to reach in May.

Brian Dixon, a professor at Indiana University’s Fairbanks School of Public Health, said he worries that the testing troubles will hurt the state’s ability to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“If it takes an additional two to five days to confirm someone has COVID, it means the individual could potentially spread the virus to others before getting their lab result,” Dixon said. “If we ask these individuals to stay home until their lab result comes back, people will be forced to be off work for a longer period of time while they wait for their results.”

OptumServe officials didn’t immediately reply to a Thursday email seeking comment.

The state health department on Thursday reported 735 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, pushing Indiana’s seven-day daily average to 649, which is the highest it has been since early May. It also reported 10 more confirmed or presumed deaths from the disease, raising the state's death toll to 2,795 since the pandemic started.

The state agreed to a $17.9 million contract for the OptumServe testing in May, which officials hoped would be covered by federal grants.

State officials are reviewing the company’s May invoice and expects payment to be between $7 million and $8 million, The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette reported. The cost is dependent on number of tests run and number of testing locations, with an invoice for June not yet submitted.

The company’s contract for July was still being finalized, state health department spokeswoman Megan Wade-Taxter said.

Howard County Health Officer Dr. Don Zent said he was preparing to open a county-run testing site in Kokomo as soon as September in expectation that the state would end its OptumServe contract, which would shutter the company’s location in the city.

The state would provide some money for training, computers, supplies and personal protective equipment, but the county health department would still need about $100,000 to run a single testing site from September to June 2021, Zent told the Kokomo Tribune.

“We’d like to do that, but I don’t know if we can afford to do it,” Zent said.

___

Follow all of AP’s coronavirus coverage at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

Scroll for more content...
Lafayette
Clear
21° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 21°
Kokomo
Partly Cloudy
25° wxIcon
Hi: 27° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 15°
Rensselaer
Partly Cloudy
19° wxIcon
Hi: 26° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 11°
Lafayette
Clear
21° wxIcon
Hi: 27° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 21°
Danville
Clear
18° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 13°
Feels Like: 11°
Frankfort
Clear
19° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 11°
Frankfort
Clear
19° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 17°
Feels Like: 11°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
20° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 17°
Feels Like: 12°
Monticello
Partly Cloudy
20° wxIcon
Hi: 26° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 12°
Logansport
Partly Cloudy
23° wxIcon
Hi: 27° Lo: 19°
Feels Like: 23°
Sunny Finish To The Work Week
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 617176

Reported Deaths: 9845
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion852151342
Lake45894695
Allen33238562
Hamilton29842320
St. Joseph27623385
Elkhart24546347
Vanderburgh19795256
Tippecanoe18242146
Johnson15284296
Porter15024173
Hendricks14615252
Madison11124224
Clark10889145
Vigo10856185
Monroe9540115
Delaware9224136
LaPorte9188165
Howard8381151
Kosciusko814085
Warrick6866102
Hancock6832106
Bartholomew6684100
Floyd6545114
Wayne6214164
Grant6063119
Dubois560282
Boone559968
Morgan554596
Henry513266
Marshall509684
Dearborn490645
Cass490364
Noble477459
Jackson429748
Shelby425582
Lawrence396180
Gibson378360
Clinton376745
Harrison354747
DeKalb353665
Montgomery351154
Knox338139
Miami326845
Steuben316546
Whitley316226
Wabash308951
Adams305337
Ripley303047
Putnam300652
Huntington298461
Jasper293735
White276243
Daviess272076
Jefferson268338
Fayette250449
Decatur250283
Greene243464
Posey242828
Wells237952
LaGrange230963
Scott228340
Clay225732
Randolph216448
Jennings201437
Spencer194624
Sullivan194033
Washington190223
Fountain185427
Starke178344
Jay169423
Owen168738
Fulton165630
Orange162035
Carroll161116
Rush157218
Perry156930
Franklin151633
Vermillion150934
Tipton135033
Parke13158
Pike119526
Blackford112523
Pulaski98037
Newton92921
Brown89434
Benton87210
Crawford8099
Martin75213
Warren6947
Switzerland6815
Union6327
Ohio4977
Unassigned0375

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events