Indiana to extend stay-at-home order through April 20

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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday he would extend his stay-at-home order through April 20 as part of the state’s ongoing effort to limit the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The current stay-at-home order had been set to expire April 7.

Holcomb said he would sign an executive order Monday to enact the extension.

The governor also extended the state’s public health emergency until May 3.

Additionally, Holcomb said President Trump has granted his request to declare Indiana a disaster area.

“We are at the start of this surge—but just the start of this surge,” Holcomb said at his daily press conference. “We’re going to get through this. … And we’re going to do it together.”

The existing stay-at-home directive requires non-essential businesses to remain closed and Hoosiers to stay home—except to buy food or prescriptions, obtain health care, take care of others or go to an essential job.

The executive order allows what are deemed essential businesses and services to continue operating. The state said that includes, but is not limited to, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, doctor’s offices, health care facilities, garbage pickup, public transit and public service hotlines.

Holcomb said he opted only to do a two-week extension—rather than a month—because it allows him “to adjust to the facts on the ground” sooner, rather than being forced to wait a month.

“We can go through line by line and tweak” the specifics, he said.

Holcomb said to expect some tweaks in the order he will sign on Monday, compared with the one that is in place now.

The extension follows Thursday’s announcement by the state to close public schools for the rest of the academic year.

The closure means students will have to finish the school year from their homes through remote learning, such as virtual classrooms, online assignments or paper packets.

Also, the state is investigating locations to handle overflow patients. Those could include closed hospitals or hospital wings and large facilities, but state officials would not answer questions about specific locations, like whether the Indiana State Fairgrounds could be used.

“We really want to do these site visits and look into this further to see which sites might be the most appropriate, so we really don’t want to talk about individual sites right now,” State Health Commissioner Kristina Box said.

The Indiana State Department of Health on Friday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 3,437 after the emergence of 398 more cases.

The death toll in the state jumped to 102, up from 78 the previous day.

Family and Social Services Administration Jennifer Sullivan said on Friday that assisting Hoosiers with mental health concerns is becoming increasingly important.

She said the number of calls to the state’s gambling and addiction hotlines has dramatically increased.

Calls to 211—which provides social service referrals—have increased from about 1,000 to 1,100 on a busy day to up to 25,000 per day.

Dr. Hani Ahmad, a psychiatrist at the Otis R. Bowen Center in Warsaw, said people who are already prone to anxiety—and even some who have not been—can find it difficult to function during crises like the pandemic.

“That’s when it’s important to reach out for help,” Ahmad said.

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