Check back here regularly for the latest news about the pandemic.
12:01 a.m., July 30
Holcomb extends public emergency as contagious delta variant spreads quickly
The number of Indiana counties approaching high risk for community spread of COVID-19 nearly quadrupled in one week as an especially contagious coronavirus variant spread throughout the state.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb cited Indiana’s increased levels of COVID-19 infections as he issued an extension Thursday of the statewide public health emergency until Aug. 30. A new executive order from Holcomb, however, does not reimpose any statewide face mask requirements or crowd-size limits that expired in April.
11 p.m., July 29
Biden orders tough new vaccination rules for federal workers
President Joe Biden on Thursday announced sweeping new pandemic requirements aimed at boosting vaccination rates for millions of federal workers and contractors as he lamented the “American tragedy” of rising-yet-preventable deaths among the unvaccinated.
Federal workers will be required to sign forms attesting they’ve been vaccinated against the coronavirus or else comply with new rules on mandatory masking, weekly testing, distancing and more. The strict new guidelines are aimed at increasing sluggish vaccination rates among the huge number of Americans who draw federal paychecks—and to set an example for private employers around the country.
4:18 p.m., July 29
IU Health requires masks throughout system
Indiana University Health, the state’s largest hospital system, announced Thursday it would require all 36,000 employees to wear masks when indoors, regardless of vaccination status. The new directive follows guidance earlier this week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that everyone wear masks in indoor public places in communities where coronavirus transmission is classified as substantial or high, including most of central Indiana.
IU Health, which operates 15 hospitals including Methodist, University, North, West and Bloomington, is the first hospital system to announce the masking requirement.
Earlier on Thursday, pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. reinstated its mask requirements for all in-office employees and contractors in Indiana, regardless of vaccination status. Also on Thursday, Indianapolis Public Schools announced that all students and staff would be required to wear masks indoors when the fall semester begins on Monday. The largest school district in Indiana, IPS serves more than 30,000 students and employs more than 5,000 people.
4:10 p.m., July 29
Health and Hospital Corp. to require vaccines at Eskenazi, other locations
The parent of Eskenazi Hospital announced Thursday that all 5,500 employees would be required to get fully vaccinated by Sept. 20, becoming the latest hospital system to issue a requirement.
Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County, the parent of Eskenazi Health, said the requirement also will cover employees of its other operations, including the Marion County Public Health Department, Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services and all nursing homes and long-term care facilities.
Employees who do not comply with the requirement face termination.
“While we know the majority of our employees have already received the COVID-19 vaccine, ensuring that all staff and providers get their shot is a critical step toward protecting the safety of our workforce, our patients, and our community,” said Paul Babcock, HHC President and Chief Executive Officer. “Vaccination lessens your risk of death from COVID by about 100-fold. We continue to urge everyone in our community who has not yet done so to walk-in and get your COVID-19 vaccine today.”
The organization said that it will consider exemptions for health or religious reasons is available.
3:28 p.m., July 29
IPS shifts gears to require masks for all staff and students
In light of tighter mask guidance from federal and local health authorities, Indianapolis Public Schools announced Thursday that all students and staff would be required to wear masks indoors when the fall semester begins on Monday.
The announcement comes barely a week after IPS said students and staff who are vaccinated would not have to wear masks in classrooms.
12:19 p.m., July 29
As COVID-19 cases surge, Lilly reinstates mask restrictions on all workers
Pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. has reinstated its mask requirements for all in-office employees and contractors in Indiana, regardless of vaccination status.
Many other large employers, however, are still in a wait-and-see mode on imposing new restrictions on employees.
Lilly confirmed to IBJ on Thursday its mask requirement is effective immediately and is based on recommendations earlier this week from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as COVID-19 infections begun to surge nationwide.
7:15 a.m., July 29
IU Health specialist: ‘We have an epidemiological situation that is worsening’
The daily number of COVID-19 cases in Indiana has climbed nearly 300% in the past month. COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state recently reached a seven-week high. And a growing number of hospitals, companies and governmental agencies are now requiring that employees get vaccinated.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control recommended that people should mask up in indoor public spaces—even if they’re fully vaccinated—in communities where the coronavirus has substantial or high transmission, which includes most of central Indiana.
To help make sense of the news, IBJ talked to Dr. Cole Beeler, an infectious disease specialist at Indiana University Health. The discussion has been edited for length and clarity.