Indiana Governor Extends Phase 4.5 of State Reopening Plan Into Late August
During his weekly COVID-19 update, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced the state will continue to remain in Phase 4.5 of its reopening plan until August 27th.
The Governor announced the creation of Phase 4.5 back on July 1st, three days before the state was scheduled to enter Phase 5, originally scheduled to be the final phase of reopening that would have seen nearly all businesses, including restaurants and bars, return to 100% capacity with recommended social guidelines and safety precautions in place.
At that time, Holcomb announced the new phase would be re-evaluated two weeks later. Two weeks to the day, during his July 15th update, he announced the state would remain in Phase 4.5 for "at least another two weeks," noting the continuing uptick in the positivity rate and hospitalizations over that time.
Today's extension stretches the phase out another four weeks. This means the following requirements will remain in place:
- Restaurant dining rooms will remain at 75% capacity.
- Bars, clubs, and entertainment venues will remain at 50% capacity.
- Government offices, manufacturing/Industrial business, office spaces, retail outlets, gyms, and personal services will continue to be allowed to operate at 100% capacity with social distancing guidelines and other safety measures, including proper sanitation procedures, in place.
The Governor also stated that local governments were allowed to enforce "more stringent guidelines" if they need to depending on their specific situation regarding the virus.
During her portion of the update, Dr. Kristina Box, Commissioner of the Indiana Department of Health, noted the rise in the number of daily positive tests the state has consistently seen over the past few weeks including the "more than 6,400 positive cases" in the past week alone. A number she said represented "roughly 10% of all cases identified since March."
Dr. Box did have some good news to share, saying the ICU bed and ventilator capacity was holding steady, and while the number of people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 has continued to tick up, the daily number of hospital admissions for the virus have dropped.
Jacob Sipe, Executive Director of Indiana Housing and Community Development also spoke on the state's rental assistance program designed to help Hoosiers struggling to pay rent due to lost wages from the pandemic. More information on the program can be found at IndianaHousingNow.org. For home owners who are having difficulty making mortgage payments for the same reason, information on assistance can be found at 877GetHope.org.
As he does before concluding the weekly update, he took questions from members of the press. One question asked was whether or not the state was considering a temporary closure of bars similar to what Governor Andy Beshear announced earlier this week for Kentucky. Holcomb did not provide a simple yes or no answer, but seemed to leave that decision in the hands of city and county governments, saying the state was working with each county to make sure the recommended guidelines are being followed for to bring the curve back down. He said they feel like the state can get there with "enforcement on the ground" of those current guideline, which won't require reverting back to a previous phase of reopening. However, while he didn't say that could change, he did say "we'll see where we are tomorrow, and next week, and next month."
You can watch the Governor's full press conference in the video below.
[Source: Governor Eric Holcomb on Facebook]