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Indiana officials emphasize caution for college students headed home

Many of the new COVID-19 cases across the state are trending back to the 18- to 30-year-old group, Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said during a Wednesday news conference. That’s especially concerning as college and university students prepare to go home for the holidays, she said.

Posted: Nov 19, 2020 5:42 PM
Updated: Nov 19, 2020 5:45 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — With thousands of students across Indiana transitioning back to their homes to finish the academic semester online, health officials are pleading for them to do so cautiously as the state continues to see record increases in new coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

Many of the new COVID-19 cases across the state are trending back to the 18- to 30-year-old group, Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said during a Wednesday news conference.

That’s especially concerning as college and university students prepare to go home for the holidays, she said.

Box advised students leaving their campuses to “behave as if you have COVID, or have been exposed,” and recommended they quarantine at home for 14 days.

She also encouraged students to wear a mask inside their house, use their own bathroom when possible and avoid seeing elderly relatives until they’ve completed a two-week isolation without symptoms of the virus.

“And please don’t head out to the bars or hang out with all the friends you haven’t seen for months,” she said. “You need to keep those social bubbles small.”

Already, a number of Indiana’s colleges and universities have started screening students for coronavirus before they head home.

University of Notre Dame students must undergo coronavirus testing before they leave South Bend, Indiana, for the winter break. A student who is exposed or tests positive must quarantine on campus for two weeks, and those who don’t complete the test can’t register for classes in the spring.

University officials tightened the testing requirement after students rushed the field to celebrate a football victory earlier this month.

Although students at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, won’t be required a COVID-19 test before leaving campus, the university has mandated students to submit a test result within seven days before arriving back on campus in January. Students who don’t comply will not be permitted to access their academic courses or move into residence halls.

Indiana University in Bloomington — where samplings of faculty, staff and students are tested each week to identify and contain outbreaks — will open its weekly surveillance testing to all of the 42,000 students living on or near campus. But while all students are being offered a test just before Thanksgiving, most will not be required to take one.

Coronavirus testing is also available at Purdue University in West Lafayette, but the university is only encouraging — not mandating — that students get tested before or after traveling for Thanksgiving.

To help ramp up testing, the state plans to send BinaxNOW rapid-testing cards to several universities around the state, Box said.

“Every student who is tested will receive information that tells them what the results mean and the steps that they should take,” Box said, noting, however, that the rapid tests provide “just a snapshot in time” and could show a positive test as negative, depending on when the student was exposed.

While Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear announced Wednesday that all K-12 schools in the state will cease in-person instruction starting Nov. 23, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has resisted another statewide closure of schools like the one he issued in March.

The Republican governor has instead insisted that mask-wearing and social distancing “are proven to work” so schools can remain open for in-person instruction.

Still, as virus spread increases, dozens of Indiana school districts are changing in-person learning schedules or sending students home altogether. Many schools are having trouble staying open due to the growing number of teachers and students who are sick or on quarantine, Box said last week, advising local officials to reconsider schools’ operations plans as virus spread spikes.

All schools in Marion County, which includes Indianapolis, are now required to close and return to virtual instruction by Nov. 30. Schools are encouraged to close sooner, if possible, and instruction will remain online until at least Jan. 15.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Fishers, a suburb of Indianapolis, elected to move students to virtual-only learning this week, citing too few healthy teachers and concerns over local hospital capacities.

A head cook at one of the district’s elementary schools died Tuesday night from COVID-19, said Superintendent Allen Bourff. Pam Podany was entering her eighth year working for the district and had been out from work since fall break, which started Oct. 19.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 613228

Reported Deaths: 9728
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion846851338
Lake45676687
Allen32980552
Hamilton29649315
St. Joseph27531382
Elkhart24478345
Vanderburgh19610250
Tippecanoe18108141
Johnson15191295
Porter14944169
Hendricks14485250
Madison11044222
Clark10811144
Vigo10795181
Monroe9458113
Delaware9170134
LaPorte9145164
Howard8292144
Kosciusko810183
Warrick680299
Hancock6782104
Bartholomew6640100
Floyd6507110
Wayne6177162
Grant6027116
Dubois558680
Boone556468
Morgan548695
Henry511464
Marshall506984
Cass486964
Dearborn486545
Noble475659
Jackson427747
Shelby420781
Lawrence393780
Clinton375044
Gibson374459
Harrison353045
DeKalb349864
Montgomery347654
Knox336239
Miami324544
Steuben315046
Whitley311126
Wabash305851
Adams302836
Ripley300546
Putnam298950
Huntington294860
Jasper291734
White275143
Daviess271774
Jefferson266238
Decatur249583
Fayette248648
Greene242262
Posey241028
Wells236951
LaGrange230062
Scott226839
Clay224332
Randolph215248
Jennings200636
Sullivan193533
Spencer193022
Washington188023
Fountain184927
Starke176444
Jay168623
Owen167637
Fulton164830
Orange160935
Carroll159715
Rush156318
Perry155929
Vermillion149734
Franklin149333
Tipton133133
Parke13088
Pike118526
Blackford111822
Pulaski97837
Newton92021
Brown88335
Benton87110
Crawford8099
Martin74913
Warren6857
Switzerland6695
Union6297
Ohio4977
Unassigned0376

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 868656

Reported Deaths: 10768
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin102154707
Cuyahoga865201153
Hamilton64744448
Montgomery43516419
Summit35250762
Lucas31663631
Butler31268232
Stark26096443
Warren19830142
Lorain19296229
Mahoning17471339
Lake16250154
Clermont16128112
Delaware1453680
Licking13326137
Fairfield1294981
Trumbull12920317
Greene12174141
Medina11732168
Clark11058265
Wood10457158
Allen9988127
Portage9454111
Miami924473
Richland9236118
Marion7486113
Tuscarawas7440183
Columbiana7409124
Pickaway732150
Wayne7111172
Muskingum710342
Erie6221130
Ross5558100
Hancock555292
Scioto542764
Geauga515955
Darke473492
Lawrence460658
Union456928
Ashtabula456473
Sandusky439562
Mercer435089
Seneca433866
Huron432841
Auglaize424164
Shelby422522
Jefferson422469
Belmont421145
Washington394240
Athens38389
Putnam378075
Madison358129
Knox356122
Ashland349038
Fulton340443
Defiance334486
Crawford325774
Preble322737
Brown315821
Logan312132
Ottawa296543
Clinton291543
Williams280367
Highland279018
Jackson265845
Guernsey257126
Champaign253428
Fayette239530
Morrow23464
Perry233718
Holmes226774
Henry221953
Hardin215533
Coshocton206922
Van Wert203445
Gallia199826
Wyandot196751
Pike178017
Adams177715
Hocking173224
Carroll157616
Paulding145321
Noble121040
Meigs109724
Monroe102232
Harrison89921
Morgan83931
Vinton71314
Unassigned00
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