Holcomb extends state’s COVID-19 emergency amid debate

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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is extending the statewide COVID-19 public health emergency for another month as legislators continue debating actions that he has said would allow him to end the declaration.

The governor’s office said Tuesday that Holcomb signed an extension lasting until March 4. That would put Indiana just short of two years since the statewide emergency was first declared because of the pandemic that health officials say has killed more than 21,000 people in Indiana.

Holcomb’s declaration cites Indiana’s ongoing high number of COVID-19 infections and points out that the vast majority of those hospitalized with the illness are unvaccinated. The declaration says “the virus remains a threat to the health, safety and welfare of all residents of Indiana.”

It is the 23rd monthlong extension that Holcomb has issued for the public health emergency. The declaration and Holcomb’s COVID-19 executive orders stemming from it have been a persistent target of conservative criticism and pressure on him to end them.

The actions sought by Holcomb would allow the state to keep receiving enhanced federal funding for Medicaid and food assistance programs.

The Republican-dominated state Senate has approved a bill limited to those administrative actions, while House Republicans have pushed through a bill that would also severely limit workplace COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

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