3/20/20 General Coronavirus

5,300 Hoosier clinicians volunteered to step up and work with health-care providers over the weekend, according to the Indiana State Department of Health during Gov. Eric Holcomb's now-daily press conference Monday.

Those volunteers include retired physicians, medical trainees, those not working due to a stall on elective surgeries and other clinicians.

ISDH State Health Commissioner Kris Box said during the conference that the ages of those volunteers would need to be taken into account, as some older physicians might be at risk of worse effects from the coronavirus.

Students near graduation at the Indiana University School of Medicine and School of Nursing could be recruited as well, Box noted, as they essentially are only missing their residency and could be stationed at less acute health centers.

"This is reflective of who we are; if you're contemplating pitching in, there's room," Holcomb said. 

The federal executive order from President Donald Trump that extended social distancing guidelines to April 30 hasn't yet affected Holcomb's shelter-in-place order, which ends April 7.

"It doesn't mean it will, it very well could," Holcomb said. "We'll adjust ... on a day-in, day-out, weekly basis.

"We absolutely factor their guidance into the decisions that we make. ... Our numbers will determine our executive orders."

As about a third of Indiana's 92 counties lack robust hospital systems, a representative from the Department of Homeland Security said that Indiana's EMS systems are prepared to transport people to proper facilities when necessary.

"Any surge plan is going to be contingent on moving people," the representative said. "Our EMS system is ready. That includes those 36 counties where the hospital facilities may be lacking."

Box said that about 40% of the state's intensive-care beds are open now.

She also said that 86% of those who have died have been over 60, and men have died far more than women so far. This could be due to the higher rate of cardiac disease in men, Box said.

Holcomb ended the conference with messages of gratitude and warning.

"We'll be back Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday with more updates," he said. "This is all so important, that we keep connected with one another.

"We've got hotels all over the state of Indiana ... who had said, 'Nothing is off limits.' We just wanna say thank you.

 Though Holcomb said he thought Hoosiers were taking the crisis seriously, he was aware there might still be people who aren't.

"We're not batting 1,000," Holcomb said. "This is a local, state and federal health-care crisis. This is not a game, this is serious. ... You may feel like you're Superman but I can guarantee you're not.

"Just think about the folks that you meet," he said. "This is a time to hunker down, Hoosiers."

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