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Indiana will move to Stage 5 of reopening Saturday


Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks Sept. 23 during a livestreamed meeting. Holcomb announced the state will move forward to Stage 5 of the Back on Track reopening plan Sept. 26. Luzane Draughon

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday the state will move forward to Stage 5 of the Back on Track reopening plan.

Stage 5 will go into effect Saturday and will continue to require face coverings, but removes size limitations on social gatherings.

Events with more than 500 people attending should request approval from the local health department, Holcomb said. He said the official executive order will be posted Thursday.

The 15-person limit on gatherings in Bloomington has not been rescinded.

It is important for individuals to continue to wear masks, wash their hands and social distance in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, Holcomb said.

“We are moving in the right direction,” he said.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said the positivity rate has dropped from 6.4% to 3.9% since the mask mandate was put into effectJuly 27. She said it is necessary for Hoosiers to continue to wear masks, stay home if they’re sick, work with contact tracers and take other preventive measures to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“This is what’s helped us to get to Stage 5, so that we can get back to doing the things we enjoy, still with some guardrails in place,” she said. 

The majority of counties in Indiana have a positivity rate below 5%, Box said. Monroe County is one with a positivity rate above 5%, but 65% of cases in Monroe County are in the college age group, she said.Since Monroe County is an orange county, their positivity rate is between 10% and 14.9%.

Box said they are continuing to work on a school dashboard to track cases in schools. Some schools have been entering data since last Friday and others are still submitting data, she said. Some form of in-person instruction is open in 94% of schools in Indiana.

Getting the flu shot is more important than ever this year in order to prevent healthcare systems from being overwhelmed, Box said. She said COVID-19 and the flu are both respiratory diseases with common symptoms and could potentially overwhelm hospitals and intensive care units.

Graphic by Carson TerBush

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