PRINCETON — Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday that Indiana’s COVID-19 Back on Track plan will advance a half step Saturday, instead of the fifth and final phase of the reopening plan.

“Indiana is largely holding steady,” he said in a COVID-19 briefing at the Indiana Statehouse. “But, having said that, we have seen somewhat of an uptick in our daily positivity rate. It was up slightly, but not to the extent we’ve seen in some other states around the country, even in some neighboring states closer to us. We’ve seen a slight uptick or increase in our hospitalization rate, but again, not to the extent that it has threatened our overall capacity to care for those who are in need. We are managing our way through this.”

But with nationwide cases at a peak level, the governor said “this virus is on the prowl and in some cases it is gaining momentum.” Rather than advancing to stage 5 of the plan, Holcomb said restrictions on indoor activities will remain at current levels, while outdoor activities will have less restrictions through July 17. “Stage 4.5, from July 4-17, is a cautious step forward,” he said of the temporary pause on increasing capacity for indoor facilities.

Holcomb said the number of patients hospitalized and admitted daily has increased in the past week, and the daily COVID-19 positivity rate has ticked up. “We are living on virus time. The volatility that we see...is of concern. That’s what has given us pause to push pause in some areas.”

Stage 4.5 keeps restaurant dining room capacity at 75%, bar and nightclub capacity at 50%, museums, zoos, movie theaters, bowling alleys, raceway grandstands, etc. at 50% while Holcomb said “we will give the green light to mostly outdoor facilities.” Limitations for indoor social gatherings remain at 250 people with proper social distancing. The plan calls for outdoor visitation at nursing homes by July 4, and in some cases, indoor visits. Hospital visitations are also encouraged with precautions.

K-12 school academic operations can begin July 1 and extracurricular and co-curricular activities can resume July 6.

Holcomb said some preliminary research on the spread of COVID-19 has shown the risk of transmission is 19 times less outdoors than indoors. “If you’re at a local parade or fireworks show this weekend, be properly distanced,” he said. ”Mask up when you get into close quarters.”

The details of the plan are found at backontrack.in.gov

Holcomb also appealed to the public to take part in the #MaskUpHoosiers campaign, emphasizing wearing masks while in public. “It may be inconvenient but it’s very important and it works,” he said. “We are not just asking, we are recommending in the strongest terms possible, that you think not only about your own life, but about the lives about those you love…”

Case update

Three more new cases of COVID-19 were reported Wednesday in Gibson County, bringing the total cases reported since early March to 44 (17 cases since last Friday), with 26 recovered and two deaths among 1,752 tests for a 2.5% positivity rate. According to the Gibson County Health Department, 16 people are quarantined. Two of the newest cases are in their 50s and one is in their 20s.

The local health department continues an appeal to the public to remember to continue practicing six-foot social distancing and wearing a mask when appropriate.

In this area, Knox County reports 62 cases among 1,896 tests; Daviess reports 139 cases and 16 deaths among 1,777 tests; Dubois reports 260 cases and six deaths among 2,817 tests; Pike County reports eight cases among 572 tests; Warrick reports 201 cases and 29 deaths among 3,204 tests; Vanderburgh 430 cases and six deaths among 12,116 tests; and Posey 35 cases among 1,019 tests.

Statewide, Indiana State Health Department reported Wednesday there are 45,952 cases since early March, including 2,456 deaths (plus 194 probable COVID-19 deaths based on clinical diagnosis rather than the test) among 489,716 tests, for a 9.4% positivity rate.

Illinois Department of Public Health reports in Southeastern Illinois that Edwards and Gallatin Counties have two cases each; White and Richland each have four cases; Hamilton has five cases; Lawrence has seven cases; Saline has nine cases; Wayne has 14 cases and one death; Crawford has 18 cases and Wabash has 22 cases.

ISDH Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box clarified that the total number of tests reported represents unique individuals being tested, and does not include multiple tests for one person. Anyone can be tested for free without a doctor’s order at OptumServe sites, including the local site at the Gibson County Fairgrounds.

Family and Social Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dan Rusyniak, said that the state plans to report facility-specific COVID-19 data for nursing homes and assisted living facilities dating back to March, by mid to late July.

Email Andrea Howe at andrea@pdclarion.com

— Email Andrea Howe at andrea@pdclarion.com

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