The Democratic gubernatorial candidate and top Democratic state lawmakers are calling for Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to impose more restrictions on the state as COVID-19 cases surge.
Holcomb moved Indiana to Stage 5, which essentially lifted all restrictions, except for some social distancing requirements and regulatory conditions for larger crowds, on Sept. 26. His statewide mask mandate, which carries no penalties for violations, also continued with Stage 5, which is set to end Oct. 17.
Earlier this week, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers said the data has shown that moving to Stage 5 was the wrong move.
“We need to reverse that step, and we need to protect Hoosiers,” Myers said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday. “We’re moving in the wrong direction.”
Myers reiterated that position on Friday afternoon, after the state reported an all-time high number of daily positive COVID-19 cases.
A total of 1,832 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Friday, marking the seventh time in nine days that new cases have exceeded 1,000. The state also reported 19 additional deaths. The seven-day average positivity rate for unique individuals has reached 9.3%, up from 7.7% a month ago.
The state also reported Friday that 1,187 people were hospitalized statewide due to COVID-19. That’s up from 763 a month ago and the highest number since mid-May.
“Continuing with Stage 5 of the reopening plan puts Hoosiers on a similar road as the Trump Administration, which only drives Hoosiers to tragic and cruel outcomes, risking our lives,” Myers said in a statement on Friday.
Indiana Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane also wants the governor to reverse course. In a statement on Friday, Lanane said he thinks Holcomb is ignoring the data he once used to make decisions.
“We now have the highest single day of cases since the pandemic started,” Lanane said in the statement. “We have hospitalizations rising to levels we have not seen since May. The list of concerning data goes on and on. The governor has said that a positivity rate above 5 percent in a county should be a cause for alarm. Yet, when the entire state’s positivity rate climbs above that same threshold, it’s business as usual for the Holcomb administration?”
Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne, in a statement, said now is not the time to ease restrictions.
“Unlike before, we’re not only seeing an increase in cases, but we’re also seeing an increase in apathy toward this pandemic,” GiaQuinta said. “Because the governor has decided now is the time to loosen restrictions, he is communicating to Hoosiers that it is okay to let our guards down.”
Holcomb has repeatedly said he’d be willing to move the state back to a prior, more restrictive, stage of reopening if needed, but when speaking to reporters on Friday, Holcomb said he is still comfortable with keeping the state at Stage 5.
“But I don’t make long-term predictions based on a virus that’s uber infectious and easy to spread,” Holcomb said. “I’m pleading and begging and asking Hoosiers all over the state to do what works. So, we want to make sure we’re encouraging folks to mask up, practice physical distancing, all those things that we know work and that will draw these numbers down. That’s the one thing that we can control and is important that we do.”