Holcomb issues new virus restrictions


Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb revoked Stage 5 of the state’s reopening plan Wednesday and announced new measures in counties experiencing medium to high community spread of COVID-19 as cases continue to surge across the state.

The new measures, which take effect Sunday and last four weeks, include stricter limits on social gatherings, seasonal and commercial events and attendance at indoor K-12 extracurricular and co-curricular activities, among other restrictions.

The state also is making a total of $20 million available to cities, counties and other local government entities to provide funding for event plan review, education and compliance enforcement.

The state also is requiring businesses to place signs at their entrances and is directing the Indiana Department of Homeland Security and Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm Commission to monitor mask use and social distancing in local businesses and to investigate complaints.

The level of restrictions is based on the Indiana State Department of Health’s color-coded county map that measures weekly cases per 100,000 residents in each category and the seven-day positivity rate for all tests completed.

Each county is assigned a color based on the average of scores for the two metrics — blue, which indicates minimal community spread; yellow, which indicates moderate community spread; orange, which means medium to high spread; and red, which indicates very high positivity and community spread.

In counties that have fallen into the orange category, which includes Jackson County, social gatherings and special, seasonal and commercial events will be limited to no more than 50 people, state officials said.

Additionally, attendance at indoor K-12 extracurricular and co-curricular activities will be limited to 25%, and community recreational and sports leagues and tournaments will be limited to participants, required personnel and parents or guardians.

In counties that are in the red category, social gatherings and special seasonal and commercial events will be limited to 25 people.

Attendance at indoor K-12 extracurricular and co-curricular activities, as well as community recreational and sports leagues and tournaments, in red counties will be limited to participants, required personnel and parents or guardians.

Currently, 87 of Indiana’s 92 counties are in the orange or red categories, according to the most recent update of the map released Wednesday.

Holcomb said Indiana is in the midst of a second surge of COVID-19 and urged Hoosiers to wear masks and maintain at least 6 feet of distance from people in public spaces.

“Unfortunately, too many of us and around the country have let our guards down and either assumed we won’t get it or if we do, so be it. We’ll get through it without any more universal consideration to what these multiplying numbers have on others and our system of care for them,” Holcomb said in a news briefing Wednesday. “ … That brings us to where we are today.”

The sharp rise in hospitalizations is inundating hospitals, some of which are filling up and sending patients elsewhere, said Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana state health commissioner.

Cases of COVID-19 have been doubling in Indiana for four consecutive weeks, and state health officials expect cases to continue to increase for some time, Box said.

“Based on information we’re hearing on national calls, we expect the surge that we are currently experiencing to continue for a number of weeks,” Box said. “But actually how long it continues depends on the actions that each of us take today and in the coming days and weeks.”

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The first doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer could arrive in Indiana later this month, Indiana State Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said during a press conference Wednesday.

Because the vaccine must be stored in minus 60 to minus 80 degree Celsius temperatures, five sites have been identified that will store doses. They are:

  • Community Hospital in Munster
  • Clark Memorial Hospital in Jeffersonville
  • Deaconess in Evansville
  • Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis
  • Parkview Health in Fort Wayne

Weaver said no one will be vaccinated until the state has authorization and advisory committees have given their OK. Health care workers and high-risk populations will be the first to receive it.

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New executive orders from Gov. Eric Holcomb are posted at coronavirus.in.gov.


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