Marion County mayors wish to move into Stage 5 with Indiana, but must follow Indy’s rules

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana moves to Stage 5 on Saturday, but Marion County will not be joining the rest of the counties. Mayor Joe Hogsett announced some of the restrictions will ease beginning Monday and the county will be more open than it’s been since March.

Because of the population, Hogsett said the plan needs to be different for Marion County.

“Because of the population density, our approach will differ from rural and suburban counties,” Hogsett said. “Frankly it would be irresponsible if it did not.”

Mayor Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department’s Director Dr. Virginia Caine make decisions for the county, which includes smaller cities like Lawrence and Beech Grove.

Lawrence Mayor Steve Collier and Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley understand the decision-making process for the county, but it is a hard pill to swallow – especially when discussing the decisions with struggling small businesses.

“All they want to do is make a living and when we get orders that we’re going to stay at 4.5 or whatever, that causes concern for those people,” Buckley said.

Collier said it is a challenge for small business owners in his community to lose customers to Hamilton County cities who are moving into Stage 5.

“You’ve got to remember that Lawrence probably has the same population density as what Fishers does and certainly what Carmel does,” Collier said. “So, it doesn’t make quite as much sense for us to still be in Stage 4.5 when everybody around us is in Stage 5. So, it’s disconcerting.”

Both mayors fully support the mask mandate. Collier believes the lessons we have learned so far would keep his community safe.

“What we’ve also seen is that if people are in fact wearing their masks and they’re doing social distancing, doing the things health people all talked about, then we can in-fact kind of arrest the further growth or further spread of COVID19,” Collier said.

During today’s news conference, Hogsett reiterated that these are not easy decisions to make.

“I understand and I empathize with the frustration of Marion County residents and businesses,” Hogsett said. “Those frustrations run the gamut.”

Dr. Caine said if Marion County drops down to 35 cases or less per day and has a positivity rate of below 5% for two weeks, everything will “be almost normal.” Currently, Caine said Marion County is seeing roughly 85 cases per day.

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