Indiana's top public health official suggested Friday that tens of thousands of Hoosiers already may be infected with the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, even though her agency only has confirmed 12 cases statewide.

During a Statehouse interview, Dr. Kristina Box said she agreed with the Ohio health commissioner, who said Thursday up to 1% of Ohioans likely already have the virus, based on data of confirmed and presumed cases and knowledge of how the virus spread in other countries.

Box said: "We'd probably be close to that" in Indiana.

If accurate, 1% of Indiana's population of 6.7 million people means 67,000 Hoosiers already might have COVID-19.

At the same time, Box said state and county health officials so far have been able to trace back the initial infection point for the dozen ISDH-confirmed coronavirus cases, as well as follow where those people went, and who they might have infected, in Indiana.

Box expects the ability to trace every case no longer may be feasible if the number of confirmed cases grows significantly.

"As we begin to test more, I do believe that we will start to see that there is more here in the state of Indiana, just like other states are finding," Box said.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Friday that he's directing state agencies to waive rules or fees to help minimize the spread of coronavirus across Indiana, and assist Hoosiers confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.

The Republican also issued an executive order lifting hours of service limits on commercial motor vehicles to ensure Indiana retailers are able to quickly receive deliveries to ameliorate reported shortages of food and "other items necessary for daily life."

"We will get through this, but we'll get through it the same way we got into it and that's together," Holcomb said. "If we need more flexibility, we need some waivers, we're going to go after that.

"The Department of Workforce Development, the Department of Revenue, the Department of Insurance — everyone is focused on making sure that we're singing from the same sheet of music here."

At the governor's direction, all state agencies are evaluating rules and regulations that should be suspended or modified to assist Hoosiers during what Holcomb has declared to be a public health emergency.

Holcomb said that includes extending the time for Hoosiers to renew their Medicaid eligibility, as well as having Indiana seek federal approval to temporarily waive the renewal process for food assistance (SNAP) and welfare benefits (TANF).

Hoosiers on Medicaid will not be required to make co-payments for COVID-19 testing, and will be permitted to obtain 90-day refills of medication for chronic conditions, the Republican governor said.

In addition, state officials are collaborating with the Indiana Department of Education to address issues pertaining to student assessments and meals for children whose schools have closed, including seeking federal approval to scrap this year's standardized tests.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration also is issuing specific guidance to daycare facilities to protect children in their care.

Holcomb said parents and guardians in need of child care during the emergency period can contact their local Child Care Resource and Referral agency at 800-299-1627.

Finally, the governor said community meals for senior citizens are being converted to home meal deliveries, with Area Agencies on Aging and similar entities given funding flexibility to cover the added costs of delivering thousands of meals daily.
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