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INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb (R-Indiana) says he supports businesses that choose to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine, despite a bill introduced by Indiana House Republicans to limit those mandates.

Indiana’s COVID-19 response was one of several topics the governor discussed in a one-on-one interview Tuesday with Statehouse reporter Kristen Eskow.

The state’s daily new COVID-19 cases at have reached their highest levels since January, according to the Indiana Department of Health. State data shows 53% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated.

When asked how he would grade Indiana’s COVID-19 response, Holcomb responded, “Getting there, long way to go.”

Amid Indiana’s latest COVID-19 surge, Holcomb calls it a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” that is impacting the entire country.

“I’m just shouting from the rooftop that ‘Get vaccinated,'” Holcomb said. “This is the answer.”

When asked whether he is concerned Indiana needs to be doing more to get more Hoosiers vaccinated, Holcomb said, “We can encourage, and we are, but I think the state’s role in all of this is to make sure that we have the supplies ready to be deployed, and they are in terms of testing, in terms of vaccinating.”

We asked the governor why he hasn’t appeared at a state COVID-19 briefing since late March, despite the COVID-19 surges Indiana has seen since then.

“I’ve been in multiple briefings and available,” he responded. “They may not be COVID briefings to specifically encourage, but every time I’m out in the public and asked about this or talk about our economic success … and so that can’t be lost in this conversation. But anytime I’m asked about the economy, I talk about it being in the context of COVID-19 is still with us. How do we manage our way through it, and we are.”

When asked whether he is trying to move on from the virus or if the pandemic is over for him, Holcomb answered, “No. What I said is we’re managing our way through it. It is with us right now. We are managing our way through it. We are making sure that while COVID-19 is here, that our kids can be in school; 95% of them are. We are making sure that our hospitals have the resources so that they can tend to patients.”

Gov. Holcomb said he has “concerns” about a proposal by more than 50 Indiana House Republicans to limit vaccine mandates by private employers.

He wouldn’t give specifics about what he dislikes about the bill, but he added he still supports private businesses making their own decisions, as he has expressed previously.

“I believe that businesses know best how to keep their employees safe and their products rolling off the shelves,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb said he will continue discussions with Republican legislative leaders on their proposal as session gets underway in January.