INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett says the stay-at-home order in Indianapolis and Marion County will stay in effect until May 15.
This comes as the state order from Gov. Eric Holcomb is set to expire on May 1. Holcomb is expected to provide an update on his order Friday.
“Indianapolis, I am asking for your bravery, your patience and your serious commitment as you have shown over the last couple months,” Hogsett said during a virtual news conference Thursday.
The Marion County Public Health Department will continue current restrictions on non-essential businesses through Friday, May 15. Restaurants will operate under the same rules, with carryout, delivery and drive-thru service permitted but dine-in service prohibited.
Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential businesses will remain open, as well as community service providers addressing the needs of vulnerable residents.
Marion County residents are encouraged to wear masks or face coverings in public and continue to observe social distancing.
Beginning May 2, golf courses are allowed to reopen, provided operators ensure proper social distancing among golfers and implement strict sanitation practices. Farmers’ Markets will also be allowed to open beginning May 2.
“Our efforts and our sacrifices are working,” Hogsett said. “I know that [the order] continues to be disruptive, and in many cases, I’m sure it’s disappointing. In a perfect world, we would remove all restrictions…but we all know this isn’t a perfect world.”
Hogsett said people have done a “tremendous job” of adapting, calling workers in industries ranging from grocery stores to warehouses “heroes” for performing essential work during the pandemic.
Hogsett is waiting for more information from the state—and positive data on the pandemic—before determining a plan for reopening the economy.
“I’m proud of Indianapolis. The days ahead are not going to be easy,” he said. “For now, I’m asking that we stay the course.”
Marion County leads the state in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. Dr. Virginia Caine with the Marion County Public Health Department said the county continues to see more than 100 new cases per day.
She commended residents for following social distancing protocols and said testing was ramping up in Indy communities. She hopes to expand to nearly 3,000 tests per day soon.
“Really emphasizing our seniors, anyone who’s immuno-compromised, anyone with symptoms and anyone who’s a front-line person,” Caine said.
Caine expressed concerns about the number of individuals who may be asymptomatic and capable of spreading COVID-19 to others.
When asked about Simon Property Group’s plan to reopen malls, Caine said she had “huge concerns” about the idea. She pointed to Georgia, which let businesses reopen and saw an uptick in cases.
Officials said Simon wouldn’t be able to reopen under Marion County’s current order. However, they were grateful for changes Simon planned to implement in response to the pandemic.
Hogsett was confident that he would be able to resolve any “differences of opinion” with Simon regarding plans to reopen this weekend. He understands the frustrations of businesses but said public safety must take priority.
“We have an invisible virus. It is among us. It is highly contagious and remains so. It is killing Indianapolis, Marion County and Indiana residents,” he said. “The health experts tell me a vaccine will probably not be available until 2021.”
Hogsett said Indianapolis and Marion County are unique when compared to other areas in the state. In addition to being densely populated, the county has consistently experienced at least a third of positive coronavirus cases statewide.
The mayor has been working closely with Gov. Eric Holcomb and his staff. While Holcomb has 92 counties to consider, Hogsett and Caine must decide how best to serve Marion County—even if state guidelines differ from county guidelines.
Hogsett said executive orders would extend restrictions through May 15. Over the next two weeks, his staff will be in contact with each other—and Gov. Holcomb’s staff—to assess next steps.
“We remain hopeful that data and the metrics will show in even greater detail an even faster flattening of the curve and a less volatile environment,” Hogsett said of prospects for reigniting the economy.
He said the city will use the next two weeks to engage with business leaders and talk about changes in the workplace as workers prepare for the “new normal.”