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Why is COVID-19 spreading so quickly?

A local epidemiologist says it's happening in small gatherings, where it can be easy to let down your guard.

INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time since the start of this pandemic, Indiana reported more than 4,000 COVID-19 cases in a single day. 

COVID-19 is spreading faster across this state and many others. There has been a significant increase since late September. There are a number of explanations and problems that don't bode well for the holidays.

"It is a new record in Indiana every day, almost." said Thomas Duszynski, an epidemiologist at Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health. 

Duszynski helped create the city's network of contact tracers. They try to find out how those with COVID-19 became infected and to whom they might have passed the virus. 

"Some of them have been clusters, weddings or family get-togethers or meeting at a bar or restaurant," explained Duszynski. "These clusters are ranging in size anywhere from three to five, up to 20 or more, even 100 (people)." 

Not big events, but much smaller ones where it's too easy to let down your guard. At my daughter's backyard wedding, we all wore masks, but took them off for family photos. Fortunately, everyone is healthy.

And now that kids are back in class, what about schools?

"The transmission is not occurring in the school itself," Duszynski said. 

He said schools have done a good job requiring social distancing masks and lots of hand sanitizing. Unfortunately, Duszynski said, children are becoming infected while outside of school.

"We have such an increase in the community. Kids leave school, they are getting in these community situations. They are bringing the disease back, which then requires schools to enforce quarantine and isolation," he said. 

Thanksgiving, just three weeks away, is a major concern.

"If you are really honest with yourself, this may not be the year to have a really big Thanksgiving dinner," Duszynski said.  

He recommends smaller gatherings, keeping distance between guests and making special accommodations to protect older guests or those with pre-existing medical conditions. 

The holiday is, after all, about feeling grateful, not feeling sick.