The Indiana State Department of Health and IUPUI will begin the third phase of its COVID-19 tracking study on Sept. 29. This round of the study is set to include children as participants for the first time.
The tracking study aims to help health officials find out current and past COVID-19 infection rates. The study includes both nasal swabs to test for active infections and blood tests to test for antibodies. Participants 12 years and older will be asked to provide both samples, while children between the ages of 5 and 11 will only provide the nasal sample.
Participants invited to participate in the study will be contacted via text message, phone call or postcard, and encouraged to schedule a test at a designated testing site through the state website to register.
Nir Menachemi with the Richard Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI said adding children as participants in the third phase of the tracking study is important in helping understand how far the virus has spread into communities.
“The addition of children is really to get a snapshot, for the first time, of people under the age of 12, who had been previously excluded, to see what proportion of children are currently infected in the state,” Menachemi said.
He notes children were excluded from the first two phases of the study, due primarily to schools being locked-down when the first phase launched and the school year being over by the second phase.
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Menachemi said it’s important that those invited to take part in the study participate, as the data not only helps the state make decisions regarding public health, but the data has also contributed to national understanding of COVID-19.
“Some of the work that we’ve done from phase one and phase 2 has literally impacted the entire nation in terms of what the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) and federal government knows and understands about COVID and asymptomatic infection,” he said.
The main phase of study will run from Sept. 29 through Oct. 3, at 30 testing sites. Six supplemental sites are planned for Oct. 4 and Oct. 5.
Testing will occur in Allen, Cass, Delaware, Elkhart, Franklin, Gibson, Grant, Hamilton, Hancock, Harrison, Hendricks, Howard, Johnson, Knox, Kosciusko, Lake, LaPorte, Lawrence, Marion, Monroe, Owen, Perry, Scott, Switzerland, Tippecanoe, Vanderburgh, Vigo, Wayne and Wells counties.
The final, fourth phase of the study is planned for April 2021.