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ISDH expands who is eligible for coronavirus drive-thru testing

Contributed By The 411 News

Gary Mayor Jerome Prince tells state “I’ve exhausted our resources to address spread of COVID-19”

It took only a day of drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Gary and three other sites across Indiana for Dr. Kris Box, Indiana State Health Commissioner, to expand the categories of who is eligible for testing.

Drive-thru testing began Monday, April 13 in Gary, Evansville, Ft. Wayne, and Sellersburg for health care workers, first responders and workers in the businesses and operations that are defined as essential during the public health emergency.

Across the four sites, ISDH tested 465 symptomatic workers Monday, April 13.

“Starting Wednesday, (April 15) we are expanding who can be tested at our drive-through clinics,” explained Dr. Box at Governor Eric Holcomb’s press briefing, Tuesday. “If you are a health care worker, first responder or an essential worker who has a household member who is sick or showing COVID-19 symptoms, please bring that individual to us so they can be tested.”

“We know that if someone in your household is sick and you are a nurse or physician, you should probably stay home because of the risk you may show up with a sickness. If we find that the household person is negative, then you can go about your job to take care of the most needy,” Box said.

Box said the drive-thru sites will also test those at-risk of becoming infected, but who are not health care workers, first responders, and essential workers. “If you are at a higher risk because of your age or weight and showing symptoms, please come and get tested.”

Gary Mayor Jerome Prince issued a statement Tuesday on the spread of the virus. “As Mayor, I have now exhausted our local resources in responding to COVID-19 and increasing the readiness of our citizenry. I am now sounding the alarm.”

Mayor Prince said he has reached out to Governor Holcomb and Vice President Mike Pence, letting them know of the people’s needs. “Gary, Indiana and Northwest Indiana urgently need state and federal resources and emergency management coordination on the ground in Gary to prevent more deaths. We must have state and federal assistance here now.”

As of April 14, the Gary Health Department reported 185 diagnosed COVID-19 cases and five deaths. On April 14, Lake County reported 891 diagnosed cases and 31 deaths.

The health commissioner said her office had been in contact with Gary’s mayor to discuss how the state would help the city in case of a surge larger than the local hospital systems could handle.

Mayor Prince asked for an emergency field hospital to be set up at the Genesis Center.

Indiana National Guard Adjutant General Dale Lyles said the Guard has the ability and agility to meet the demand “wherever it’s called for” and has already been applied in the Indianapolis area. Lyles said medical supplies and medical personnel can be there in 24 hours.

Before that happens, Lyles said trigger points have to be met. “We will have to know what capacity we have in hospitals, the capacity for ventilators, and where we will have to meet the demand.” When the drive-thru testing site was in Merrillville last week, only health care workers, first responders, and essential workers, could take the test.

The Indiana State Dept. of Health moved its drive-in coronavirus testing site to Gary after ending four days of testing at Merrillville High School.

The drive-in testing site in Gary will be held April 13-17 at St. Timothy Community Church, 1600 W. 25th Avenue. Hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Testing is limited to one individual per vehicle. The test is free.

A doctor’s order is not needed to get tested.

To participate, you must exhibit some of the symptoms like fever, headache, diarrhea or loose stool. If symptoms include shortness of breath, ISDH recommends you go to the hospital emergency room.

It is for anyone who works in businesses and operations that the state defined as essential during the coronavirus pandemic. That means postal workers, steel workers, grocery store workers, first responders, health care workers, transportation workers, and restaurant employees. You must show identification that states Indiana residency.

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