A third person has died in Tippecanoe County due to the coronavirus, health officials announced Wednesday.
The deceased individual was over 60 and suffered from many health conditions that enhance the risk of severe complications, Tippecanoe County Health Officer Jeremy Adler said during a press conference.
The county reported 331 positive cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday, a figure that understates the number of people who actually carry the disease, Adler said.
Adler cited a study conducted recently by the Indiana University School of Public Health that tested 4,600 randomly selected Hoosiers who had already been tested for COVID-19. The results found that 2.8% of Hoosiers — roughly 186,000 people — carry the coronavirus, a stark contrast from the nearly 30,000 the Indiana State Department of Health has officially reported.
In Tippecanoe County, a 2.8% rate of prevalence translates to 5,400 people with COVID-19, Adler said.
The results of the study, which was presented to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb last week, also showed that 44.8% of patients to test positive were asymptomatic. The mortality rate IU found was 0.58%, six times higher than the rate for the common flu.
"Data on asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19, with nearly half of people testing positive not displaying symptoms, really highlights the absolute importance of wearing masks in public settings," Adler said. "Masks work if everybody is wearing a mask."
More than 5,000 people have been tested in Tippecanoe County, Adler said. Individuals from age 20 to 29 and 30 to 39 account for more than 40% of the county's positive cases, a higher proportion than any other age group.