R-0 may be the most important scientific term you’ve never heard of when it comes to stopping the coronavirus pandemic.


About an hour after the Indiana State Department of Health announced yet another record high of new coronavirus cases Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the Midwest numbers suggest the region is going in the wrong direction.

In a press call discussing the situation in six states, including Indiana, Dr. Henry Walke, incident manager for the CDC’s COVID-19 response team, said his colleagues were working with local and state health officials to mitigate spread of the virus. 

The CDC region that includes Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota has seen a 27% increase in cases and 37% increase in deaths in the past seven days, Walke said.

Indiana has seen a 68% increase in deaths, a 13.7% increase in cases and an 8.7%  increase in positivity in that time period, CDC officials said.

Friday, Oct. 23:2,519 new cases, 27 new deaths reported

The statistics suggest “we may be going backwards in our efforts” to contain the virus, Walke said. He echoed the message that state health officials have sent repeatedly to wear a mask, social distance, and wash your hands often.

Over recent weeks, Indiana’s numbers indeed have gone in the wrong direction. Indiana on Thursday reported 2,880 additional cases, bringing its seven-day moving average of cases above 2,000 for the first time. The seven-day average for deaths has been in the low 20s, a level last reached at the end of May.

The state has increased testing by about 4,000 daily tests over the past month to about 25,000 a day, but a greater share are coming back positive. As of last Thursday, the moving average for the positivity rate for all tests was 6.9%. A month earlier it was 4%.

Fishers firefighter Paul Ashbt conducts a coronavirus test at the City Services Building over the summer. Indiana is seeing both its deaths and positive cases increase. (Photo: Grace Hollars/IndyStar)

Hospitalizations also have risen to a level not seen since early May, when the state was still in the most restricted phase of its Back on Track plan. On Thursday Indiana reported 1,515 people hospitalized across the state for COVID-19.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, who moved the state into the final phase of its reopening plan last month, has resisted calls from his Democratic opponent and others to restore some of the measures of the previous months that aimed to stem viral spread.

“Where we need to make improvements is on the front of what we can control,” he said. Holcomb said Wednesday during his weekly coronavirus news briefing. “We’re not living in a police state. … The last thing we need to do and the last thing I want to do or need to do is go back to a stay at home.”

Instead, Holcomb has said that the state’s homeland security department is helping local officials in hard-hit areas with