Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced at a Wednesday press conference Indiana will remain at Stage 5 of his Back on Track COVID-19 plan despite the recent increase in COVID-19 cases last week. He also said he would extend the mask mandate, which was scheduled to end Saturday, but neglected to mention for how long.
Indiana’s COVID-19 positivity rate has increased from less than 4% to 5.3% in less than a month, Holcomb said. Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for Indiana’s department of health, said as of yesterday, 1,357 Hoosiers were hospitalized with COVID-19, which is the highest number of hospitalizations since May 13.
Holcomb said multiple times in the conference the increase in cases and hospitalizations was mainly tied to private, close-contact events, such as weddings or funerals, where COVID-19 precautions are not taken as seriously.
“It’s just easier to let your guard down and be more trusting and just assume that the odds aren’t there working against you,” Holcomb. “Those events are the very events that turn out to be big contributors to our positive cases.”
Even though Holcomb acknowledged the increase in cases was significant, he said he did not believe shutting down the state would ultimately help Indiana.
“Other states who have capacity limits of 10 people at some events or venues are still facing surging numbers,” Holcomb said. “The shutting down approach is missing the point.”
Holcomb said a blanket response will not help solve the issue of increasing cases, but Hoosiers’ behavior and actions are what need to be addressed.
Holcomb repeatedly said while some people are operating within the recommended preventive methods, too many Indiana residents are ignoring science and not wearing masks. He also reminded the state of the effects of not attempting to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“Those decisions can directly or indirectly, even not intentionally, cost lives,” Holcomb said. “More than 3,609 to be exact as of today.”
Also during the press conference, Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana’s state health director, announced she had tested positive for COVID-19.
As a result of Box’s positive test, Weaver, Holcomb, members of the governor’s office and the Indiana Department of Health said they would be tested Wednesday afternoon. They would have taken a rapid test which, if the result is negative, will be followed by a PCR test. The results from the PCR test will be ready by about midday Thursday.
Box said she had contracted the virus from her 23-month-old grandson, who had been exposed to two workers at a home daycare who also tested positive for COVID-19. She found out the workers had tested positive on Tuesday when she was at work and immediately went home. She took both a PCR test, which came back negative, and lab test, which came back positive.
She is asymptomatic, while her daughter and grandson are symptomatic, but not experiencing severe symptoms, Box said.
Box said even though she texted positive, because she has maintained a small bubble and socially distanced, there have not been many people identified as close contacts to her.
“We’re really going to have limited to no individuals who are close contacts except for my immediate family that will need to quarantine or isolate, depending on whether they become ill,” she said. “That’s really because we do practice social distancing, we do wear our masks and now we are appropriately tested and contact tracing.”