Gov. Holcomb says Indiana will take gradual approach to reopening economy amid coronavirus pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Gov. Eric Holcomb said the Indiana economy would reopen gradually once officials are confident the coronavirus pandemic is beginning to wane.

The governor said the decision will be data-based and depends on how the state is doing in terms of COVID-19 cases and the infection rate.

“In terms of how we will reopen on the economic front…it will be a rolling reopen. It won’t be like flipping a light switch. It won’t be all at once,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb said his biggest concern was making sure employees were safe and had a high level of confidence in the workplace.

“Every day, we take two steps forward. Every day when I hear how many Hoosiers we’ve lost, I feel like we’ve taken a step back,” Holcomb said.

Still, the governor believes Indiana is on the right path and “making progress every day.” He said his goal was to be one of the first states out of the pandemic with a healthy workforce ready to go.

He also said he’s been in contact with governors in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan to discuss a multi-state approach to re-engaging business and commerce.

The state has also been in contact with trade associations to discuss safety accommodations that would need to be made for employees to return to work.

When asked if he was considering a mask-wearing requirement, such as the one in New York, Holcomb said “everything was on the table.” That was especially applicable, he said, when businesses started to return.

Earlier this week, Holcomb said he would be reviewing the state’s stay-at-home order and expects to provide an update on Friday. It’s currently in effect through April 20 at 11:59 p.m.

The Indiana State Department of Health announced this week that it is authorizing long-term care facilities to transfer, discharge, transport or relocate residents in order to reduce the risks of COVID-19 to this vulnerable population.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box addressed the long-term care order Wednesday, saying COVID-19 patients wouldn’t be placed into facilities in which there were no cases. Patients could be moved into facilities that already have positive cases, Box said.

The state would not order facilities to become COVID-19-only facilities. The Indiana State Department of Health has given addition personal protective equipment (PPE) to 16 long-term care facilities.

Statewide, 681 long-term care residents have tested positive—about 1% of the long-term care population. Alarmingly, there have been 119 deaths in long-term care facilities, accounting for 27% of the state’s deaths. In addition, 512 staffers have fallen ill.

Box said 46% of the state’s intensive care unit (ICU) beds were available. Of those currently in use, 25% are being used by coronavirus patients.

The ISDH reported Wednesday that Indiana now has 436 deaths from the coronavirus and a total of 8,955 confirmed cases. More than 48,000 people have been tested statewide. The state has not provided information on how many Hoosiers have recovered after testing positive.

On Tuesday, Box announced the state was opening up testing to household members of healthcare workers, first responders and essential workers.

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