Marion County to delay Stage 5 reopening, lagging Holcomb’s statewide order

Dr. Virginia Caine, left, and IBJ reporter John Russell speak Thursday at the IBJ Health Care & Benefits Power Breakfast.

Marion County will delay moving to Stage 5 of Indiana’s Back on Track recovery plan while health officials wait to see whether the number of COVID-19 cases holds steady or decreases.

“We have a greater potential for transmission of COVID-19 compared to any other county,” Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Department of Public Health, said Thursday morning during IBJ’s Health Care & Benefits Power Breakfast panel discussion. “So we will not be moving to Stage 5 along with the governor’s recommendation.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday he was moving Indiana to Stage 5 starting on Saturday, a move that essentially lifts all restrictions, except for some social distancing requirements and regulatory conditions for larger crowds. Gov. The state has been in Stage 4.5 since July 1.

Holcomb’s executive order allows local governments to impose more restrictive guidelines. Marion County has issued more stringent orders than the rest of the state throughout the pandemic.

Caine did not say when she expects Marion County to move to Stage 5. She said she was concerned that Marion County’s population density might increase the number of cases sharply if officials did not take the right steps.

(See video below: Dr. Virginia Caine discusses Marion County’s approach to reopening and how it’s different from the state’s.)



Marion County has been following a slower timeline for reopening than other counties. It didn’t enter Stage 4 until June 19, one week after the rest of the state.

“Recently, we were doing wonderful and got down to 4.2% positivity rate,” she said. “We were averaging no more than 25 cases a day. At the peak, we were seeing 300 cases daily. And so we went to Stage 4.5. … Unfortunately, because of population density and some other aspects, we saw our cases come right back up in a second peak. So we’re moving a little bit more cautiously, in increments, just to make sure we’re not going back in the wrong direction.”

The positivity rate is a measurement of the number of all people tested for COVID-19 divided by the number of people who tested positive. Marion County’s positivity rate for the past seven days is 4.7%, compared to the statewide rate of 3.9%.

Earlier this month, Mayor Joe Hogsett said bars and nightclubs could reopen at 25% capacity indoors and 50% capacity outdoors. Bar-top service will still be closed, and no dancing or live entertainment will be allowed. Customers must be seated at tables containing no more than six patrons and are required to wear masks when walking around. Bars and nightclubs also will have to close at midnight.

But in many other counties, Holcomb’s order to move to Stage 5 lifts capacity limits 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.

Holcomb previously lifted most of the state’s travel and business restrictions 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.

On Thursday, the Indiana State Department of Health reported that 920 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at the state laboratory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories, bringing to 114,236 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard.

A total of 3,322 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 17 from Wednesday, the state health department said.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

46 thoughts on “Marion County to delay Stage 5 reopening, lagging Holcomb’s statewide order

    1. @Dina – which businesses? All of those nightclubs and bars in the donut counties? Because restaurants and retail are operating in Marion county. The people leaving the city to go to their favorite Applebees in Plainfield were most likely not contributing before

    2. Yep. I won’t go anywhere near downtown and I go to the the donut counties if I go out. They don’t seem to have any issue with the added influx. He has ruined Indianapolis.

    3. As a ring county resident, I’m just the opposite. With the added (temporary) seating outside on Mass Ave, I feel safer at a Mass Ave or Broad Ripple business than packed inside GOAT in Carmel or at Muldoons.

    4. I will continue to dine in Carmel. The Hog has killed downtown Indy. Carmel and Indy both experienced Covid. The riots spoiled the city after decades of finally becoming a city with a vibrant downtown as a destination. They day now people understand. Right, BLM is a disservice to all races and has created racial tension that did not exist prior to years old formation of a Dem voting political extension.

    5. I will continue to dine in Carmel. The Hog has killed downtown Indy. Carmel and Indy both experienced Covid. The riots spoiled the city after decades of finally becoming a city with a vibrant downtown as a destination. They say now people understand. Right, BLM is a disservice to all races and has created racial tension that did not exist prior to the formation of a Dem voting political extension. It was years in the making and emerged ubiquitously.

    1. Isn’t this is the same person who said “consider yourself lucky” to complaining bar owners a couple of weeks ago? The same who is now “allowing” 7,500 fans in a 60,000 seat arena without explanation? And allowed -0- in a 300,000 capacity OUTDOOR venue a month back. Lots of “gamesmanship” or maybe just plain partisanship going on here, not leadership. Notice the phrase “follow the science” is not even used anymore, because science says the hospitalization and ICU usage is flat. The 5% positivity “benchmark” is just an arbitrary number someone picked, has no science behind, but we “have” to be below it. Kansas City had 17k fans on opening night, Dallas had 21k last week, no issues.

    2. Uh, Rob, the decision to not have fans at the Indy 500 was neither Caine’s or Hogsett’s. And you aren’t going to know if there are any “issues” with Dallas’ 21K fans this soon.

      And everyone suggesting downtown is dead are the people those of us who actually LIVE and VISIT downtown want to stay away! Do us a favor and live up to your word. Most likely, you never come here anyway. The many THOUSANDS of people who DO live and play here will continue to make it the vibrant downtown it is. And “downtown” Carmel? LOL. That is NOT a real downtown. It is a manufactured place. Downtowns evolve over time. They aren’t built over the course of a year or two.

    3. Marshall P downtowns also devolve over time, as in the last 6 months for Indy. You know nothing about who is or was patronizing downtown. I commuted there for work every day, took clients out to lunch and dinner all of the time. Took my family to events at the Hilbert, the Repertory Theater, museums, etc. several times a year, shopped at Circle Centre, and on and on. NOT. ANY. MORE.

  1. Downtown will soon be just someplace you drive through to get to someplace better. Anyone that understands the restaurant business knows that they are losing money and won’t last much longer under these restrictions. Downtown is already a shell of what it was and it’s only going to get worse.

  2. So much support here that I must take the opposite view. I’m completely ready for people to decide for themselves and not the government. We’ve done it their way since March and I now want freedom of choice. If you need or want to be careful, please do so, but stop forcing this crap on me!

    1. Agree, she just a lib following Democrat orders. Ego beyond anything. Maybe the businesses affected should riot the health dept.

    2. Funny, I wonder the 200,000 dead people would make the same choice, or if they even had a choice. I guess we should just let true ‘Mericans choose away.

  3. As much as it pains me to say it, We’ve been heading to Carmel when we want a night out. It’s like going to a place called “normal and vibrant”. Bars, restaurants, And people. Their Monon area along Main Street is fantastic. We live in Meridan Kessler and I’m tired of going to restaurants and sitting in parking lot.

    1. We’ve enjoyed eating at quite a few restaurants in Carmel over the past few months and will continue to do so. No reason to spend our money in Indy as long as Hogsett is mayor. No interest in a dirty, unsafe downtown Indy.

  4. The donut cities don’t want the Marion County people bringing their indiscretion to disrupt their safer environments. Stay home, wear a mask and wash your hands and you can have nice things too.

    1. The donut cities wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the jobs their citizens had in Indianapolis. I’d much rather spend my time in Marion county if I still lived in Indiana. I actually spent more time out in Indy than Carmel and I lived on Main Street above what used to be Scotty’s.

  5. Hogsett has no mind of his own. He does what he his told. He is a puppet and career politician. Way to go Joe! You’ve been able to destroy In 6 months, what has taken 30 years to build.

    1. It’s actually Trump’s fault for allowing this virus to destroy every city in the country. Open your eyes man.

    2. Yep, I would have to say the real failure started it Washington, and our poor mayor is just dealing with the carp he has been given.

    3. Wesley you really need to get your TDS treated. It is only going to get worse the next 4 years. Now Cuomo is saying that he doesn’t trust the federal government to test a vaccine and it will have to be approved by NY first before it is administered in his state. Wasn’t he the one screaming that the federal government needed to take charge?

  6. Note the state-wide mask mandate remains in place with IN’s stage 5 as I understand. Mask wearing and continued social distancing are key steps to keep the virus activity down.

    1. I really don’t understand why it is too much to ask people to wear a mask. If everyone wears a mask, I will be out shopping at the businesses you all lament. If they aren’t wearing masks, then I will have to spend my money online.

    2. I agree with that. It’s a simple request, but quite effective. And it’s not like it’s costing us (much) money to follow it. And like Mary said, with masks on, there are very few places I feel unsafe at the moment.

    3. Exactly- wearing a mask is the easiest thing in the world to do – really can’t understand why anyone is against it…..

  7. Boss Hogsett has spoken!

    Rosco: “goody goody gum drops why didn’t I think of that?”

    Boss Hog: “because if you had my brains you’d be Boss and I’d be the jacka$$ sheriff!”

  8. Safety for residents is key. Marion County has the highest rate and could suffer more by opening too soon. Those in Marion County who desire other activity can do so in other counties. The mayor has spoken as the mayor should do and he does so in a civil manner. This indeed is so much better that government cover ups as in Iowa where lives were lost and endangered. Downtown Indy is not destroyed. The entire nation is affected, particularly more dense areas. National leadership has been disappointing, disinterested, and lacking in truth and proactive measures to better contain a known danger – had there been leadership rather than lies the entire nation would be better off. Career politicians control and continue; amateur politicians abet and abscond.

  9. Downtown Indianapolis IS destroyed. I have an entire office full of people who are NEVER going back. No more tax base, no more patronage of businesses and on and on. And this is the widespread situation in Indy. Between the homelessness everywhere, increased crime, the boarded up buildings and the riots, people have found better places and better ways to both do business and recreate….they re NOT coming back.

    1. Completely agree! Downtown was only vibrant because of the mass of people that work there, now that they are gone and will absolutely stay gone for a long time, downtown will return to it’s roots as it was in the 70’s and 80’s. A boarded up skid row.

  10. Isn’t Caine the one who shut down all HS sports without any data or science to back it up? It’s starting to sound like the goal posts keep moving.
    Remember “Flatten the curve?”
    Or how about “ICU beds?”
    “Death rate?”
    Now it’s “5% positive tests?” Why choose 5%? Why not 4%? 6%? None of this is making sense any more.

  11. I spend more money taking Uber to Carmel/Fishers from Broad Ripple than I spend in Marion County on meals and entertainment. The Fork and Ale, Sun King-Carmel, GOAT, 933 at the Yard, Havana Cigar Bar, and a few others have received most of my spending power since May 2nd. I feel like I’m cheating on my restaurant/bar proprietor friends in Marion County, but city leadership has given me no choice.

    Friendly reminder: The death rate for COVID-19 in Indiana is .000495582. Of this infinitesimal death rate, 1.92% are under 50 years old. ~7% of this death rate is under 60 years old. (IN.Gov – 9/25/20)

  12. IBJ, can we just do away with the comments section? I’m tired of reading all of the ignorant commentary from people who don’t even live in our downtown and probably rarely even visit. Anyone who actually lives or visits downtown knows they are just wrong. The comments section has just become another propaganda machine, much like Fox News.

    1. Marshall P. you live in a dream world. We have several people in our office who are living downtown and THEY agree it’s awful. One just bought a home a year ago…moved downtown for the atmosphere that is no more and is experiencing severe regret right now.

      Oh, and no one makes you read comments….you are free to choose…imagine that!

  13. It’s interesting how many people are willing to turn their backs on Indianapolis as if their donut town would even exist without it. They should be doing everything they can to support the city regardless of restrictions and political agendas. If Indianapolis fails you think the suburbs will not feel the pain? How many people come from out of state or even other parts of Indiana to visit the wonderful attractions Carmel, Fishers, and Plainfield offer? All of our energies should be directed at making Indy a vibrant city that everyone wants to visit despite the obstacles.

    1. No actually, Carmel draws many to visit directly…they’ve heard how vibrant it is. And they draw many more now! 🙂 I’m sure others do as well.

{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining
{{ articles_remaining }}
Free {{ article_text }} Remaining Article limit resets in {{ count_down }} days.