Indiana governor holding to decision ending mask mandate

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is sticking by his decision to lift the statewide mask mandate next week amid concerns from health experts about more contagious coronavirus variants and a request from President Joe Biden for states to keep such rules in place.

Posted: Apr 1, 2021 12:16 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is sticking by his decision to lift the statewide mask mandate next week amid concerns from health experts about more contagious coronavirus variants and a request from President Joe Biden for states to keep such rules in place.

Indiana also opened up COVID-19 vaccinations Wednesday to all residents age 16 and older in the latest expansion of the state’s vaccination efforts.

MANDATE ACTION

Holcomb, a Republican, said Wednesday that he also had not heard from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, since his comments Monday hoping that Holcomb would reconsider the dropping of Indiana’s mandate effective April 6.

Holcomb said Beshear had his cellphone number and was welcome to call.

“I’m not looking to change my mind, but I’m happy to hear his reasoning behind his statement that he made,” Holcomb said. “My style has been to respect all other governors and the decisions that they have to make, according to the numbers and what’s happening on the ground in their states.”

Holcomb said about 18,000 Kentucky residents have received COVID-19 vaccination shots in Indiana and he understands that many people cross between the two states every day for work.

“I completely respect that, but I’m paying attention to the numbers in Indiana and what’s in the best interest for Hoosiers,” Holcomb said.

Beshear’s office didn’t have any immediate comment Wednesday.

Holcomb signed executive orders Wednesday that also end the statewide crowd size and other business restrictions meant to stem the coronavirus spread as of April 6 — the day after the NCAA men’s basketball tournament now being held in Indianapolis ends. He announced those changes last week.

Holcomb said he was confident that Indiana’s health care system had the capacity to care for COVID-19 patients and that the state could react effectively to new spread of the coronavirus.

CONCERNS REMAIN

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said she had concerns about coronavirus variants that are being blamed for growing infections in Michigan and elsewhere. Box said she was also worried by slight increases in new cases and hospitalizations across Indiana.

The Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 tracking listed a seven-day average of 938 new infections as of Tuesday, up from an average of about 750 two weeks ago. Hospitalizations were 657, while those were below 600 for several days in mid-March.

Both figures, however, are down more than 80% from December peaks. The state’s average daily COVID-19 deaths have dropped from more than 100 a day to fewer than 10 a day during that time.

“Cases are increasing in parts of the state, which again serves as a reminder that we cannot throw caution to the wind and behave as the pandemic is over,” Box said.

VACCINE AVAILABILITY

Indiana’s expansion of vaccine eligibility for youths and people in their 20s makes more than 1.3 million additional people eligible for COVID-19 vaccines. That raises the number of Indiana residents eligible to about 5.4 million, the state health agency said.

About 21% of Indiana residents 16 and older had been fully vaccinated as of Tuesday, according to the department.

State officials said Indiana was set to receive some 405,000 first and second doses of the three available vaccines this coming week.

Some of those doses will be distributed to planned mass vaccination clinics starting Thursday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and next week in Gary, along with some clinics at workplaces with more than 1,000 employees. The state is also dedicating 60,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine for clinics aimed at students at Indiana University in Bloomington, Purdue University, the Indiana-Purdue campus in Indianapolis, Notre Dame, Butler and Goshen College.

Eligible Indiana residents can schedule a vaccine appointment by visiting https://ourshot.in.gov or calling 211.

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1407929

Reported Deaths: 25834
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook56116810553
DuPage933531321
Will777131042
Lake689761025
Kane59918816
Winnebago34589523
Madison32075533
St. Clair29670526
McHenry29452299
Peoria23620346
Champaign21446158
Sangamon19474245
McLean18765194
Tazewell17406308
Rock Island15345329
Kankakee14715224
Kendall13432100
LaSalle12904253
Macon11121214
DeKalb10235122
Vermilion10162154
Adams9386128
Williamson7963138
Whiteside7241174
Boone691180
Ogle627584
Grundy603379
Clinton585893
Coles5838101
Knox5712157
Jackson537465
Henry512970
Macoupin493389
Livingston493192
Woodford490783
Stephenson487286
Effingham480474
Franklin478178
Marion4686117
Jefferson4613123
Monroe447894
Randolph427687
Lee422554
Morgan410092
Fulton409659
Logan404665
Christian392575
Bureau384187
Montgomery383074
Iroquois326668
Perry326661
Fayette325256
McDonough302651
Jersey276652
Saline267557
Douglas262736
Union244141
Lawrence243627
Shelby234938
Crawford216826
Bond211524
Cass209527
Carroll204337
Pike197153
Ford192050
Hancock190832
Clark189034
Warren186250
Wayne185953
Jo Daviess183324
Richland179640
Edgar178942
White176426
Washington167625
Moultrie166328
Mason162647
De Witt160629
Piatt154914
Clay152943
Johnson152516
Greene151434
Mercer151334
Wabash145212
Massac140440
Cumberland130919
Menard126912
Jasper116818
Marshall109519
Hamilton87816
Schuyler8067
Brown8006
Pulaski7337
Stark65625
Edwards62012
Calhoun5352
Henderson53414
Scott5011
Putnam4933
Alexander48511
Gallatin4774
Hardin39412
Pope3384
Unassigned582432
Out of IL30

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 764448

Reported Deaths: 13965
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1049701803
Lake567981029
Allen42685698
St. Joseph37253568
Hamilton37131426
Elkhart29699470
Tippecanoe23347230
Vanderburgh23106404
Porter19538327
Johnson18755391
Hendricks18012321
Madison13463345
Clark13450198
Vigo12789255
LaPorte12533224
Monroe12494178
Delaware11100198
Howard10612237
Kosciusko9736123
Hancock8707149
Bartholomew8235157
Warrick8031157
Floyd7975181
Grant7337181
Wayne7222201
Boone7145105
Morgan6886142
Marshall6323116
Dubois6267118
Cass6083111
Dearborn598578
Noble595790
Henry5939111
Jackson514677
Shelby509097
Lawrence4901127
Gibson460696
Montgomery454492
Clinton453555
DeKalb451585
Harrison450576
Whitley414745
Huntington411781
Steuben409560
Miami404073
Jasper399455
Knox387091
Putnam383762
Wabash367383
Adams351656
Ripley350471
Jefferson340486
White338954
Daviess3084100
Wells302281
Greene292285
Decatur291493
Fayette285864
Posey280435
Scott278058
LaGrange276972
Clay273048
Washington252437
Randolph247083
Jennings238149
Spencer237531
Fountain233750
Starke229859
Owen221059
Sullivan219043
Fulton207645
Jay202832
Carroll196522
Orange190556
Perry189139
Vermillion179644
Rush177027
Franklin171635
Tipton171547
Parke153616
Pike141234
Blackford137832
Pulaski122948
Newton122436
Benton109215
Brown105743
Crawford105116
Martin92515
Warren87615
Switzerland8308
Union73510
Ohio58211
Unassigned0428