NEWS | June 19, 2020

Indiana National Guard helps with COVID-19 study

By Cpl. Hannah Clifton Indiana National Guard

INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana National Guard is assisting Indiana University researchers and the Indiana State Department of Health with the second wave of a COVID-19 study.

Hoosier Guard members first helped the ISDH and the university’s Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health in Indianapolis during the study’s launch. The data gathered from the study is integral to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track” initiative.

“This study is paramount in his decision process because he is going to use the scientifically based process to make policy decisions about the safe reopening of the state,” said Indiana National Guard 1st Sgt. Ryan Richmond, medical branch noncommissioned officer in charge. “It affects every Hoosier, and his objectives and goals are to safely reopen and to monitor for the potential rebound and second wave of COVID-19.”

During the pandemic, Richmond works as a liaison officer to Indiana’s Department of Health and he is deeply involved in the Indiana National Guard’s cooperation in the study.

“The study will help determine the prevalence of coronavirus within the state,” said Richmond. “The results of wave one are a finite mark in time. This study will build on wave one and will have data points that will help drive the fidelity of the data and help us understand the current infection rate and also show us, through the serology study, who was infected.”

In late April, researchers designed the study to be conducted in four waves, ending in April 2021. The study tests randomized groups of Hoosiers to accurately represent the demographics of Indiana.

In theory, this information will give researchers a more valid set of data points to extrapolate information and measure the impact of COVID-19. The study will help indicate who is sick, who has been sick and who has a natural immune response. This data will also help researchers more accurately assess infection and mortality rates.

The Indiana National Guard continues to provide medical professionals to assist with nasal swabs and blood draws while also providing staff to help with traffic control, site set up and tear down.

Indiana National Guard Staff Sgt. Jonathan Lewis works as a testing site senior medic.

“I love being out here and being able to help in any way we can. It just goes to show how well we can work together and get stuff done,” said Lewis.