Holcomb extends state’s public health emergency until end of year

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb celebrates with his wife, Janet, his re-election during a victory party in the Grand Ballroom of the JW Marriott hotel in downtown Indianapolis on Election Night, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Tuesday signed an extension of the state’s public health emergency through Dec. 31, a step under which he has issued the statewide mask order and limits on crowd sizes.

Holcomb’s action Tuesday was his ninth 30-day extension of the statewide public health emergency he first issued in early March on the day of Indiana’s first coronavirus infection was confirmed. Holcomb reinstated crowd size limits based on a county’s risk level of coronavirus spread but has largely left enforcement to local officials.

Health officials across the state are worried about hospitals being overwhelmed by the quickly growing number of severely ill COVID-19 patients and a possible new surge tied to Thanksgiving gatherings.

About 30% of the patients arriving at Johnson Memorial Health’s hospital in the Indianapolis suburb of Franklin have been testing positive for COVID-19 infections, leaving it struggling to find the space and staff to care for new patients.

“In a lot of ways this is what we feared. We are on the brink right now,” said Dr. David Dunkle, Johnson Memorial’s CEO. “If you get a post-Thanksgiving surge, I am not sure we have the resources to really deal with it.”

Indiana hospitals were treating 3,460 COVID-19 patients as of Monday—about a 350% increase since late September when the state’s steep increase in hospitalizations and deaths began.

Officials in northern Indiana’s Elkhart County cited the strain on the county’s hospitals and more than 80 coronavirus deaths in November as they approved Monday allowing fines of up to $5,000 against businesses for multiple violations of rules such as failing to post signs about mask requirements or holding an improper gathering or meeting.

“None of us came to this spot lightly. If we had thought there was any other way, we wouldn’t be considering this ordinance,” County Commissioner Suzie Weirick said. “It is beyond COVID. It’s the ripple effect into the community that has put us into this position. We really just hope … that people understand masks work, distance works and sanitization works when all used together.”

Republican state Sen. Blake Doriot, whose district covers most of Elkhart County, questioned the authority of local health officials to conduct such inspections, saying “It just slams in the face of property rights.”

“I guess I just don’t agree with this walking right through somebody’s door and saying, ‘Here we are, we’re going to inspect you,'” Doriot said.

County officials said the public health orders need to be reinforced like any other worker safety issue.

“Our main goal is not the fines, although they are there for repeat offenders,” County Health Officer Dr. Lydia Mertz said. “Our goal is education, helping businesses work through any problems that may be preventing them from being in compliance.”

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17 thoughts on “Holcomb extends state’s public health emergency until end of year

    1. Enough to give them to every single Hoosier. You’ll also have to convince them all to wear them whenever they leave their home. Good luck with that.

    2. Whenever they leave their home? I didn’t know I needed one to get the mail now, Wes! Masks also work against the cold and flu. Plan to continue wearing one indefinitely? I sure don’t.

    3. Nicholas, if your mailbox is in your driveway, no. If you live in an apartment building or have a shared mailbox of any kind, then yes. Restaurants and bars need to be shutdown immediately since mask wearing is impossible while eating. People who are at businesses and refuse to wear a mask should be fined $1,000. This needs to happen until case rates drop significantly. Enough whining about a piece of fabric on your face.

    4. You’ll also have to convince them not to wear below their nose! They’re like children, it seems.

    5. No, most children just wear them and don’t throw a fit. It’s the adults acting children that are the problem…

  1. Governor Holcomb needs to realize that Article 4 section 4 of the US Constitution; “The United States shall guarantee every state in this Union a Republican Form of Government ….”. This means that dictates from on high are un-Constitutional and that the legislative body should be called to special session to address this public health emergency. This is the same for voter fraud, attorney generals and Governors are not the final arbiter.

    1. He’s got staffers who likely reminded him of Jacobson v Massachusetts, the Supreme Court case that allows states to mandate vaccinations and enact reasonable regulations to protect public health and safety. If it was against state law, why hasn’t someone gone to the courts and asked for it to be overturned?

      Don’t worry, as soon as they’re in session, I’m sure the Indiana Legislature will take a run at making sure more of us die the next time around by making it harder for the governor to act next time. Then they’ll turn around and tell us how pro-life they are…

    2. ” I’m sure the Indiana Legislature will take a run at making sure more of us die the next time around by making it harder for the governor to act next time.”

      What basis are you making this representation?
      Shouldn’t, We the People” want representative government over dictatorial government?

      If you read Jacobson brief the majority court ruled based on the belief of what the majority thought.
      “While not accepted by all, it is accepted by the mass of the people” pg. 197 US 34

    3. Steve, the Indiana legislature is not representative of the state. The GOP gerrymandered the maps so much after the 2010 census that it’s basically impossible for them to lose the majority. This happens in Democratic states too. Until congressional and state legislative districts are mandated to be drawn by a bi-partisan board, the legislative branch of government will continue not representing it’s constituents. Look at the outrage most citizens of Indiana had after the insane statehouse passed RFRA. Mike Pence was about to lose his job over it. Why did the state GOP not freak out about their own seats? Because they’re so gerrymandered that they know they’ll win even if they lose 15-20% of their voters. You can even look at Congress. Most appeal to the fringes of their parties because most are guaranteed to hold onto their seats.

    4. What Wesley said.

      And as far as the will of the majority of people, 89% of people voted for either Holcomb or Myers in the recent election.

      11% voted for the anti-masker.

  2. If any of these make-them-up rules worked, we would not have the “surge”. We are well past time to go back to normal. We need to control the germophobia (virus) control freaks. Masks, limited stores hours, closed events has not stopped nor slowed the virus spread. Our worthless governor orders more that rules that only cost of citizens their jobs, children education and life enjoyments. Past time to ignore the orders and live life. The orders will only end when citizens stop following the orders.

    1. The mask rules don’t work because the governor doesn’t care enough to penalize people who don’t wear them, or businesses that don’t enforce the rules. He’s intimidated by the radical right. If a DUI didn’t come with a multi thousand dollar fine, possible jail time, and a license suspension, you’d see drunk driving crashes skyrocket. There are no point of making rules if you don’t enforce them. Sad that Americans must be threatened to be punished for doing the wrong thing like children, but not surprising given Trump is President and promotes that behavior. Citizens like you not following the orders are the reason everything is such a mess.

    2. The issue is and remains gyms, churches, indoor bars, and restaurants being open. They need to be closed down for a couple months and financially supported by the government. if we had that, we’d have the virus under control. (And, yes, we did that in the spring and promptly reopened them too soon because we didn’t have the proper financial support.)

      And spare me the nonsense about how grocery stores are the same. They’re not and if you think they are, then you’re flat wrong.

      You’re advocating for death, not “living life”. Given the vaccines are literally on the way, I don’t understand the inability to be patient for a few more months.

  3. With the inaction by our leaders in Indiana to mitigate the Covid-19 pandemic, I ask the following questions:
    Why have the healthcare professions of our State not demanded action?
    Why have the medical professional organizations of our State not demanded action?
    Why have the universities, medical schools, “research” organizations (“Indiana CTSI, BioCrossroads, IBRI, etc.) of our State not demanded action?
    Why have the hospitals of our State which are running out of ICU beds, staff, PPE, etc., etc. not demanded action?
    Why have the insurance companies of our State not demanded action?
    Why have all the media organizations of our State not demanded action?
    Why have the citizens of our State not demanded action?
    How long will it take?
    How many lives will be lost?
    How many jobs will be lost?
    Will we be able to stop the train of inaction before it takes us over the cliff?
    If not, we have only our collective selves to blame!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Simple Phil:
      Your panic porn isn’t reality.
      Hospitals receive increased reimbursement to support alleged COVID cases.
      Politicians and the media haves created this chaos.
      Honest data is harder to get than a Pelosi blowout during a lockdown.

      Sleep tight!

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