PRINCETON — Gov. Eric Holcomb and some other state officials were quarantining until results of their Wednesday COVID-19 tests are received, following confirmation that ISDH Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box and some of her family members have the virus.

The results of Wednesday’s testing may determine whether Holcomb can keep his engagement as keynote speaker for Saturday’s rescheduled Gibson County GOP Lincoln Day dinner in Princeton.

The governor announced in Wednesday’s COVID-19 briefing that the state will remain in stage 5 of its reopening plan, with a mask mandate continuing through Nov. 14.

He encouraged people to be vigilant in wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing. “Stage is 5 is not the stage where the checkered flag comes out,” he said.

“People are tired of this,” he acknowledged. “They have mask fatigue, yearning to get back to the good old days, how we used to socialize...but with every day comes reports of a lot of folks not wearing face coverings at large events or zero regard for social distancing. In less than a month, our positivity rate moved from under 4% to 5.3%%. We’ve had a record high number of positive cases reported, and more important, hospitalizations reported.

“We also all see Hoosiers who are showing a disregard for the health of their fellow citizens...Those decisions can directly or indirectly, even not intentionally, cost lives,” he said. “Those decisions, or lack thereof, are affecting our quality of life, both short term and long term. There is so much about this virus we don’t know. We want to make sure, as we are going through each day, that we’re underscoring the fact that our actions are our inactions. Those actions are health care costs, lost wages, business failures.”

Holcomb said state health officials have more concerns about the smaller venue events such as weddings, funerals, receptions, house parties. “Those events are the very events that turn out to be big contributors to our positive cases and illnesses. It’s these events that have nothing to do with a 500 capacity limit. We are proving you can go to a Colts game or soccer game or school or go shopping. The numbers have everything to do with how many of us are and aren’t letting our guard down at smaller events, where safety protocols are not put into place and practiced...Too many are ignoring science and rolling the dice as if someone’s going to pay that bill for us.”

Diagnosed with COVID-19, Dr. Box reported in Wednesday’s conference via phone that she likely contracted the virus from her daughter or grandchild, who tested positive after coming home from day care with cold symptoms. “Make sure that you listen to the governor and what he’s saying. Our numbers are not good. It’s especially concerning to me to see what’s happening in our hospitals around the state.”

Holcomb said state officials will revisit the stage 5 status next week or sooner if needed. He said Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Excise Police, the Indiana State Fire Marshal’s Office and ISDH will be available to assess local needs across the state, focusing on counties showing “red” or “orange” on the positivity map.

“We can’t afford to get complacent,” ISDH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsey Weaver reported. She said Dr. Box was in Evansville last week to discuss numbers in District 10 (which includes Gibson County). “What we keep hearing is that people don’t think COVID is a thing...they have pandemic fatigue. It’s clear COVID is a thing.”

Holcomb said the state is focusing on support for areas with higher spread rates. “We are looking to provide support, whether that’s more tracing...or boots on the ground to help locals educate. The local communities are being stressed because people are just acting like this won’t affect them, or it won’t fatally affect them, or they’ll get through it…. I’ll be blunt. If we need to return to a very surgical response to surges that occur, we will do that.”

LOCAL NUMBERS

Gibson County’s COVID-19 community spread metrics improved this week. Still classified in the “orange” or moderate to severe spread, the metric number improved from 2.5 to 2.

Indiana State Department of Health reported seven new cases in Gibson County Wednesday, with the county’s seven-day positivity rate among Gibson Countians tested improving to 25.4%, and the seven-day positivity rate among all tests administered to 10.03%.

In total, some 763 cases and nine deaths have been reported in Gibson County among 6,285 people tested.

Among local schools the updated database shows these results for Gibson County:

• Princeton Community Intermediate School no new teacher, staff or student cases; total less than five teacher cases and six staff cases.

• Princeton Community Middle School less than five new student cases, less than five new teacher cases, less than five new staff cases; and less than five total student cases, less than five total staff cases and less than five total teacher cases.

• Princeton Community Primary School total less than five student cases and less than five staff cases. No new cases reported.

• Princeton Community High School fewer than five new student cases, no new staff or teacher cases. Total fewer than five student and fewer than five staff cases.

• Francisco Elementary no cases

• Barton Township no cases

• Oakland City Elementary no new cases, fewer than five total student cases.

• Wood Memorial Junior High no new cases, no cases reported.

• Wood Memorial High School no new cases, fewer than five student and fewer than five teacher total cases.

• Owensville Community School no new cases, less than five new teacher cases and less than five new staff cases; less than five total student cases, less than five total staff cases and less than five total teacher cases.

• Fort Branch Community School fewer than five new student and fewer than five new staff cases, total eight student cases and fewer than five staff cases.

• Haubstadt Community School no new cases, fewer than five total teacher cases and fewer than five total staff cases.

• Gibson Southern High School fewer than five new student cases, six total student cases and fewer than five total staff cases.

In this area, Knox County reports 615 cases and 10 deaths among 6,151 people tested; Daviess County 767 cases and 31 deaths among 5,814 people tested; Pike County 292 cases and eight deaths among 2,049 people tested; Dubois County 1,229 cases and 21 deaths among 9,219 people tested; Warrick County 1,763 cases and 58 deaths among 15,749 people tested; Vanderburgh County 5,123 cases and 46 deaths among 50,884 people tested; and Posey County 621 cases and three deaths among 5,152 people tested.

In Southeastern Illinois, the Illinois Department of Public Health reports 84 cases in Edwards County, 189 cases and four deaths in Wabash County, 296 cases and 11 deaths in Richland County, 293 cases and six deaths in Lawrence County, 397 cases and seven deaths in Wayne County, 97 cases and two deaths in Hamilton County, 210 cases and one death in White County, 457 cases and six deaths in Saline County and 94 cases and two deaths in Gallatin County.

Email Andrea Howe at andrea@pdclarion.com

— Email Andrea Howe at andrea@pdclarion.com

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