Indiana reinstating some coronavirus limits as risk spreads

Indiana’s governor announced Wednesday that some coronavirus restrictions are being reinstated after several weeks of sharp increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

Posted: Nov 11, 2020 2:56 PM
Updated: Nov 12, 2020 10:51 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor announced Wednesday that some coronavirus restrictions are being reinstated after several weeks of sharp increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.

The new steps being imposed by Gov. Eric Holcomb will limit social gathering sizes in those counties at the higher-risk levels of coronavirus spread and would cover 87 of the state’s 92 counties as of Wednesday’s update from the state health department.

A new executive order starting this weekend will limit crowd sizes to 25 people in the highest-risk red counties and 50 people in the next-riskiest orange counties, with larger events needing approval from local health officials.

The new order will also limit capacity at K-12 indoor sports and extracurricular events to 25% capacity in orange counties and only parents or guardians as spectators in red counties. Religious services, however, will face no crowd restrictions.

Holcomb said he was also extending the statewide mask mandate for another month.

Indiana is following several other states in toughening restrictions as deaths and new cases per day are rising across the country, which health experts have blamed in part on the onset of cold weather and growing frustration with mask-wearing and other precautions.

Holcomb had decided in late September to lift nearly all of Indiana’s business and crowd size restrictions. Since then, Indiana hospitals have seen a 200% increase in COVID-19 patients and the seven-day rolling average of deaths has jumped from 10 a day to 38, just short of the state’s peak in late April.

The Republican governor had for weeks resisted taking any new actions as he faced conservative complaints during this reelection campaign that he had infringed on individual liberties, along with criticism from this Democratic challenger that his response was too passive.

Holcomb said a day after winning reelection last week that he wasn’t planning any changes to COVID-19 policy, but on Wednesday blamed residents for not abiding by precautions such as mask wearing and distancing to slow the virus spread.

“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,” Holcomb said.

The increased COVID-19 case load has strained hospitals around the state and threatens to exceed their bed capacity and overwhelm their health care staffs, he said.

“We must do all we can to protect our hospital capacity so they can protect patients and care for them — not only for those who have the COVID but for the cancer patient and the heart patient and other Hoosier patients who need care,” Holcomb said.

Hospitals scattered across the state, including the South Bend, Evansville and Lafayette areas, are at or near capacity with additional COVID-19 patients and some have had to take steps such as diverting ambulances and delaying some medical procedures, Indiana Hospital Association President Brian Tabor said.

“The strain is making it so there are fewer and fewer places that now can handle the increased workload when one hospital becomes overrun,” Tabor said in an interview.

The updated risk map released Wednesday by the state health department listed 87 of the state’s 92 counties in the highest two of its four risk levels. The agency assigned the most dangerous red rating to nine counties, all in rural areas of the state. None received the lowest-level blue rating.

In early October, the state’s risk map gave all but nine counties the less-serious yellow or blue ratings. Those ratings are based on the number of new cases per 100,000 residents and the percentage of tests confirming COVID-19 infections.

State health officials on Wednesday added 31 more deaths to Indiana’s pandemic toll, raising it to 4,762 fatalities, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus infections since March.

No penalties for violations of the new restrictions were announced Wednesday and Holcomb’s previous orders have included few or no such penalties.

While religious services will be exempt from the new crowd limits, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box encouraged more people to participate in virtual services because of infections linked to such in-person services.

“There is a spike every week on Sunday related to church events,” Box said. “... When we’re singing and we’re praising that even causes more dispersion of this virus.”

The public needs to take the virus spread more seriously while waiting for approval and distribution of vaccines, said Tabor, the hospital association’s leader.

“The only way to relieve the stress on the system now is to change that trajectory that we are on,” Tabor said. “It is going to take us a couple of months to get over this hump.”

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 605426

Reported Deaths: 9642
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion836221331
Lake45189680
Allen32646547
Hamilton29240315
St. Joseph27260380
Elkhart24354344
Vanderburgh19292248
Tippecanoe17905133
Johnson14974293
Porter14707168
Hendricks14295248
Madison10909220
Vigo10688179
Clark10581139
Monroe9338110
Delaware9089134
LaPorte9007162
Howard8177143
Kosciusko803182
Warrick668798
Hancock6639104
Bartholomew6443100
Floyd6377109
Wayne6106161
Grant5965115
Dubois554079
Boone549467
Morgan535595
Henry505564
Marshall502684
Cass482663
Dearborn476245
Noble471257
Jackson421947
Shelby413881
Lawrence389179
Clinton372043
Gibson369159
DeKalb345964
Harrison345644
Montgomery343354
Knox334339
Miami319844
Steuben313045
Whitley304526
Wabash301447
Adams299635
Ripley297545
Putnam294149
Huntington290659
Jasper288134
White272242
Daviess266774
Jefferson262538
Decatur246583
Fayette246348
Greene239262
Posey238128
Wells234050
LaGrange227662
Scott223439
Clay221832
Randolph212848
Jennings197736
Sullivan191133
Spencer190121
Washington183722
Fountain183127
Starke174843
Jay167022
Owen163637
Fulton163130
Orange157234
Carroll156415
Rush154418
Perry152727
Vermillion148634
Franklin147833
Tipton131832
Parke13038
Pike116226
Blackford110922
Pulaski96837
Newton90721
Brown87534
Benton86510
Crawford7929
Martin73013
Warren6777
Switzerland6575
Union6267
Ohio4867
Unassigned0375

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