“It was low”; Local health leaders share results of COVID-19 prevalence study

Published: May. 29, 2020 at 12:15 AM CDT|Updated: May. 29, 2020 at 12:16 AM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Results from a newly released study demonstrated lower than expected numbers in regard to COVID-19 cases within the local workforce.

According to research gathered by the Deaconess Health System and the IU School of Medicine-Evansville, the prevalence of COVID-19 among the local workers tested is 32% lower than Indiana’s overall rate.

These results come from a point-in-time study of six local employers in the Evansville area. The study lasted five days and more than 800 people volunteered to participate.

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke describes this data as being invaluable for local decision making.

In the first local study on COVID-19′s prevalence in our community, health leaders took a workforce focus.

“We expected it to be low; it was low,” Deaconess President Dr. James Porter said. “Maybe a little lower than we would’ve guessed if you were asking us to guess a number.”

The six organizations who decided to take part in the study were Deaconess Health System, Berry Global, Toyota Indiana, Old National Bank, Koch Enterprises and Shoe Carnival.

Two types of testing were conducted. The first was a nasal swap, which can show current infection or active disease. The other was a blood test that helps in looking for antibodies to the virus, indicating prior infection.

Dr. Steven Becker, associate dean at IU School of Medicine-Evansville, says only six of the people tested actively had the virus. Four of them were asymptomatic, while the remaining two later displayed signs.

"That 0.67% - that’s about one in 150 people in the workforce that would actually be carrying the positive virus,” Dr. Becker explained.

The study also illustrated that 1.3% tested positive for antibodies, which indicts prior virus exposure.

An additional 0.83% exhibited inconclusive results to the antibody test. This simply means some antibodies were present, but not high enough to confirm exposure.

“I think this is all good news, but it can continue to be good news if we continue to take appropriate steps,” Mayor Winnecke shared.

Some demographic information like age and gender were also collected.

Both testing methods were FDA approved.

Samples were processed and resulted by Mayo Clinic.

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