PRINCETON — While neighboring Kentuckians are advised not to leave their state except for work and other essential needs, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Tuesday he’s not yet imposing out-of-state travel limitations.
“We’re not looking at that at this time in Indiana,” he said in his daily news conference. The governor said people travel for workforce needs, but said he said there is concern about those traveling from COVID-19 “hot spots.”
“I would just ask anyone who is in a hot spot now, don’t be traveling…” he advised.
Tuesday, Indiana State Department of Health reported 2,159 positive cases and 49 deaths from COVID-19. Some 13,373 tests have been administered statewide and reported to ISDH. A week ago, the state had 365 confirmed cases and 12 reported deaths from COVID-19.
The number of positive cases in this area reported to ISDH: four in Gibson, four in Posey, 18 in Vanderburgh, eight in Warrick, two in Knox, three in Dubois and two in Sullivan counties.
Gibson County Health Department confirmed the number of local cases involve a person age 72, a person age 65, a person age 33 and one person age 21.
The local department did not have information regarding whether those affected in Gibson County are are hospitalized or recovering at home.
In southeastern Illinois, Illinois Department of Public Health reports one case in Saline County, one in Williamson, one in Franklin and one in Crawford. No positive cases have been reported yet in Illinois counties bordering this area of Indiana.
ISDH Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said the increases in cases in Indiana are large, but noted that the statistics don’t actually reflect day to day spread of COVID-19 because of reporting delays. She also noted that daily county reports are adjusted if needed if the person is treated in a county and reported from there if they didn’t actually live there.
“It’s a sad reality that our numbers of cases and deaths are going to continue to increase...we have a very long way to go before we reach the peak and I cannot say how important it is for you to stay home. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones,” she appealed.
Box said she has asked Army Corps of Engineers to set up field hospitals as necessary. “Our hope is that we may never need this, but we also prepare as if we will.”
The governor said the response to a call for medical volunteers has been astounding. Monday afternoon the number was 5,300, and by Tuesday, it topped 11,000 volunteers, excluding medical/nursing students.
He took note of the local COVID-19 crisis response fund for Gibson, Posey, Warrick, Vanderburgh and Spencer Counties. When the fund was announced in Evansville Friday, $1.4 million of the $6 million goal was raised. Holcomb reported the level is at about $2.2 million, earmarked for “front-line organizations helping the most vulnerable....This just epitomizes to me the joint exercise we find ourselves in…,” he said.
He reiterated that an order signed Monday gives COVID-19 needs priority over all elective procedures. He said all health care facilities, hospitals, surgical enters, veterinarians, dentists, etc. are ordered to postpone or cancel all elective procedures unless by doing so would cause harm to the patient. “Any all medical medical expertise first needs to go, during this window, toward defeating COVID-19.”
The governor said he plans within the next two days to detail what Indiana schools should anticipate in the pandemic precautions.
Holcomb said he realizes the stay-at-home order has a drastic impact on the business community, but said the restrictions remain in place because ”...We’re tracking the data and it is going to define what step we take next. We understand the pain this is causing...We’ve had to change our behavior, however blunt that sounds. We have to distance ourselves...We’re trying to push through this, keeping in mind there is another phase...We’re still moving up (in COVID-19 cases), we’ve got to get to that peak or that surge, and going own...not react too quickly...It is harder to determine how to de-escalate than to escalate.”
Holcomb said the state is putting together an economic response package. “We’ve just got to get through this together as fast as we can.
“What we don’t want to do is to be premature, reflexive...the numbers I’m looking at will be in a gradual methodical way. Things will be different in this new normal…,” he suggested.
Indiana Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne said his agency’s staff and call center capacity has increased, as well as increased bandwidth to handle online filing. He said the agency is also working on an over-the-phone system to decrease the backlog in claims.
Asked whether all Hoosiers should be wearing masks, Dr. Box said people working with at-risk populations wear masks daily. “But every person masking is not realistic and not necessary,” she said.
Box said that cases are increasing, but she doesn’t believe Indiana is at the peak of the COVID-19 surge. “I see the surge coming, but are we at the peak of the surge? In no way shape or form.”
Box said the state has not projected a maximum COVID-19 fatality rate in Indiana, but noted that Indiana has a higher percentage of elderly people and smokers, who could be more at risk.
Family and Social Services Agency Secretary Kim Sullivan said plans have identified critical care resources, step-down medical capacity, and ways to provide help for individuals to stay at home for their illness. “We’re rolling out support to serve so individual hospitals don’t have to go it alone,” she said.
During the stay-at-home order and state of local emergency in Gibson County, the City of Princeton reiterated Monday night that basketball courts and playgrounds are closed in an effort to enforce social distancing.
Princeton Municipal Building and other offices are closed to all walk-in customers. Utility bills can be mailed or deposited in the drop box at the entrance. Customers can also pay at www.paygov.us for a small fee, or call 1-866-480-8552.
City employees are working. The water department office number is 812-385-3498.
• Sheep Dog Impact Assistance and other volunteers and organization continue donations of medical masks and other personal protection equipment for local health care and first responder personnel.
• As the stay-at-home order limits gatherings to 10 people or less with proper social distancing, Hillside United Methodist Church revamped plans to for the church’s Saturday, April 11 Easter community meal. It will be served by delivery or pickup at the church. Call the church at 812-385-2910 before April 8 for delivery or pickup. Pickups are available at noon at door 3 of the church, and deliveries will be made at approximately 11 a.m.
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