Holcomb moving Indiana to Stage 5 of recovery plan, but extends mask mandate

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday said he was moving Indiana to Stage 5 of the Back on Track recovery plan starting Saturday, but was extending the state’s pandemic mask order through at least Oct. 17.

Stage 5 essentially lifts all restrictions, except for some social distancing requirements and regulatory conditions for larger crowds. The state has been in Stage 4.5 since July 1.

Holcomb’s executive order, which he expects to sign Thursday, will allow local governments to impose more restrictive guidelines. Marion County has issued more stringent orders than the rest of the state throughout the pandemic.

The mask order from Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb first took effect July 27 and was set to expire Saturday without the extension.

The governor said he was making the move to Stage 5 because COVID-19 numbers regarding positivity rates and cases per capita have been “moving in the right direction.”

Full state guidelines for Stage 5 can be found here.

Dr. Kristina Box said Wednesday that the state’s mask order has helped reduce the spread of the coronavirus and was a must if the state wanted to move to the next stage of recovery.

Under Stage 5, capacity limits will be lifted on restaurants, bars, nightclubs, fitness centers, convention centers, amusement parks, cultural and tourism sites, horse-racing facilities and raceways. Holcomb said guidelines that call for six feet of social distancing could still reduce the capacity numbers.

The stage requires organizers of events that will include more than 500 people to submit a written plan to the local health department.

Holcomb has largely lifted most of the state’s travel and business restrictions since May while keeping in place limits on crowd sizes for restaurants, bars and public events. He has credited the mask order and other actions with holding down the state’s COVID-19 death and hospitalization rates.

State health officials on Wednesday added 10 more COVID-19 deaths to the state’s toll. The newly recorded deaths raise the state’s death toll to 3,530, when including confirmed and presumed coronavirus cases, since the state’s first such death was reported on March 15, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. That is an increase of 58 deaths in the past week.

Holcomb’s decisions on mask mandates have stirred discontent among conservatives who believe his orders have gone too far. That has complicated his reelection campaign against Democratic challenger Woody Myers, with some saying they will support Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater.

Disgruntled voters are unlikely to support Myers, the Democratic candidate, as he called for a statewide mask order weeks before Holcomb issued one and believes it should include possible criminal penalties. Myers, a physician and former state health commissioner, has said Holcomb “stalled for months, caving to the anti-science conservatives.”

That has provided an opening for Rainwater that Libertarian candidates typically don’t see.

The Rainwater campaign hasn’t been able to keep up with requests for yard signs and has been raising enough money to start running cable TV and radio ads next week, which Libertarians haven’t done for many years, campaign manager Sam Goldstein said.

Holcomb last week vigorously defended mask wearing last week as helping keep COVID-19 death and hospitalization rates far below what they were during the worst of the outbreak in April and May.

“Here’s the deal, the virus hasn’t changed. It is still uber infectious, it is still ravaging different parts of the country,” Holcomb said last week. “The more that we do the things that work, the better off we’ll be and we’ll continue to see folks go back to work.”


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33 thoughts on “Holcomb moving Indiana to Stage 5 of recovery plan, but extends mask mandate

    1. Duh! From Channel 8 story: “The seven-day positivity rate in Indiana has dropped from 6.4% when the state’s mask mandate began July 27 to 3.9% on Sept. 16, Box said.”

  1. Just had a restaurant owner next to me while watching the update say, “ great, but how do I open to 100% capacity inside and out but maintain 6 feet apart? No restaurant and bar can physically do that!”

    Great work politicians we pay with our tax money!

    Can we call this Stage 4.7 instead?

    1. No, he won’t be able to jam people on top of another, as in pre-COVID days. Though, as I referenced in another story earlier, my observations on Mass Avenue a few weeks ago suggest people haven’t let that stop them. I try to remember I’m a Christian, and should not wish ill on others. On the other hand, perhaps an epidemic of cases arising from Mass Avenue and Indy area bars, similar to what has happened on the campuses, would lead to sufficient levels of cleansing of the gene pool that we wouldn’t have to worry about this so much going forward, when the virus comes back next year having mutated and avoided the vaccines…

      I know, maybe he can charge more for his drinks and food, to offset only being at 75% capacity. A COVID premium his customers will no doubt willingly pay for the opportunity to come into his bar and risk death or long term serious physical impairment. Health bills which I, as a purchaser of health insurance, will undoubtedly see reflected in my premiums as those exposed and ill will no doubt be part of the population which refuses to purchase health insurance because, hey, someone else can pay my bill, I’ll just get treated and skip out on the bills.

      mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maximus culpa. On my knees, starting on my Hail Marys and Our Fathers…

    2. Tim Tim Tim – a – roo!

      You sound like a great “Christian”… wishing death upon people you deem to be not in compliance of your arbitrary parameters. I’d suggest you run for office as a liberal career politicians…

      In the meantime, those hellfire college kids will be just like those before (including me) but remember 99.9% of them will survive the election infection.

      Pssst. I work in healthcare – and the data peddled here and to the public is biased and bogus. Sorry to get you up to speed!

  2. The masks have done nothing. New cases went up, but hospitalizations and deaths stayed the same. Bag the masks and lift all restrictions. Let Indiana work again.

    1. Hey Scott C., Duh! From Channel 8 story: “The seven-day positivity rate in Indiana has dropped from 6.4% when the state’s mask mandate began July 27 to 3.9% on Sept. 16, Box said.”

    2. Anthony S wants to sound smart but doesn’t know the difference between correlation and cause 🙂 LOL. If you want to explore something of statistical significance instead of looking uneducated as you try to insult people, dig into infection rates in areas with aggressive mask mandates, moderate mask rates and zero mask mandates (Sweden, etc.) You’ll quickly find the rates are nearly identical – except for Sweden which is now much lower in infection rate than it’s European peers. Hummm?

    3. Maybe someone can explain why the positivity rate is meaningful. Seems to me, the more tests you conduct and we are conducting 50% more tests than just two months ago, the lower the positivity rate will be since most positive cases are people who suspect they already have Covid. Again, focus on the metrics which matter the most, hospitalizations and deaths.

      It is sad anyone died from Covid or anything else. It is also sad to see so many lives affected by businesses going bankrupt.

    1. Yes, he is. On public health, listen to the physicians and scientists and not the Trump sycophants.

    1. You know, I don’t know how all this will turn out but I say be smart, wash your hands and live life! Don’t be afraid, be smart. Live is worth living!

    2. Vermont is averaging less than 25 new cases per day in entire state and has a positivity rate of 0.33%. It seems like they would be justified to be reopened. But, they also still require masks if physical distancing less than 6′ isn’t possible. Good to see that state and its people following basic pandemic science.

    3. I can understand Vermont moving to stage 5 but not Indiana. Horrible and ill-formed decision but he IS up for re-election in November. .

    4. Jennifer if you are afraid of dyeing you are already dead. If you afraid of getting a virus then get a bubble.

  3. As long as they don’t put you on a ventilator and put you into a medically induced coma, you will be just fine.

    Due to legacy death laundering, state Heath officials can call you a Covid fatality if you die of other causes within 60 days of a positive C-19 test….this will never end.

  4. Eric Holcomb lost the 2020 race for Governor with his mask mandate extension. Go to the site “Republicans Against Holcomb” 10,000 hits yesterday all against Eric the Idiot. He is going to lose the Governors race over forcing people to wear masks.

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