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INDIANAPOLIS — Governor Holcomb announced the continuation of Stage 4.5 in Indiana’s Back On Track reopening plan Wednesday, as well as the extension of the mask mandate for another 30 days. 

The governor said Indiana will remain in Stage 4.5 through Sept. 25. This means no changes for bars and restaurants. The mask mandate will also continue through the same date. 

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box reported Wednesday’s COVID-19 case numbers and continued to stress the importance of Hoosiers cooperating with contact tracers.

One fourth of people who need contact tracing are not responding. “If you get a text or call from ISDH, please answer,” she said.

Dr. Box explained a new system of color coding schools based on their particular county’s COVID-19 situations which will be posted on Wednesdays. Each category will have its own recommendations for events and classes.

Indiana hospitalizations of coronavirus patients continue to run higher than in June. Dr. Box said Indiana’s 7-day individual positivity rate at 6.6% continues to trend down, but she wants to see it at 5% or lower.

Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush gave an update on the state’s court staff and jury trials are happening around the state. Many counties are live streaming court hearings because the constitution requires these to be public.

Rush announced a new program to help resolve landlord/tenant disputes with a neutral facilitator. The Mortgage Foreclosure Trial Court Assistance Project is a conference-based program to connect lenders and borrowers.

Sec. of State Connie Lawson said, “We are going forward with the normal election process.” Lawson stated November’s election will not have major changes as in the case of the primary earlier this year.

Indiana is expecting 1.3 -1.8 million Hoosiers to vote by mail, even without making changes because of COVID-19.

“Don’t wait. If you know you’re going to apply to mail, apply today,” said Lawson after explaining the large influx of absentee ballot requests the state is seeing.

Indiana has one of the longest early voting periods in the country, said Lawson. Beginning 28 days prior to the election, anyone can vote in person.

The deadline to register to vote is Oct. 5, and early voting starts Oct. 6 for the general election. Lawson Indiana residents to consider volunteering at the polls.

According to Lawson, poll workers will have N95 masks and voters will have PPE available as well.