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Indiana governor relaxing coronavirus limits on crowd sizes

Indiana’s crowd size limits will be relaxed starting next week following recent improvements in the statewide COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates, the governor announced Wednesday.

Posted: Jan 28, 2021 9:29 AM
Updated: Jan 28, 2021 11:55 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s crowd size limits will be relaxed starting next week following recent improvements in the statewide COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates, the governor announced Wednesday.

State health officials, however, are not expanding COVID-19 vaccine availability to those younger than 70 because of limited dose availability, and will continue with a plan to expand shot eligibility based on age rather than moving up teachers and other essential workers as other states have done.

The new rules will allow gatherings at up to 25% capacity at venues in counties with the two highest risk levels of coronavirus spread on the state’s four-level rating system, Gov. Eric Holcomb said. The revised rules starting Monday under Holcomb’s new executive order will replace the current 25-person crowd limit for the highest-risk counties that has been in place since mid-November.

Holcomb said residents and businesses must still follow precautions including mask wearing and distancing to stem the virus spread.

“We can manage our way through this,” Holcomb said. “We know what works, but it is a constant balance of our lives and our livelihoods.”

All 92 Indiana counties remain in the highest restriction categories according to the state Department of Health’s coronavirus risk tracking map. But that number could drop in coming weeks as Wednesday’s updated map labels five of Indiana’s 92 counties in the most dangerous red category, down from 34 counties last week and 73 two weeks ago. A county can move to a lower-risk rating after two weeks of improving per capita numbers of new infections and percentage of tests confirming those infections.

The health department has added 316 coronavirus deaths in the past week to the state’s pandemic toll, which has reached nearly 9,850 fatalities including confirmed and presumed COVID-19 cases.

The state’s seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 deaths has declined to less than 50 per day after peaking at 86 a day in mid-December. That average was about 10 deaths a day before a steep increase in new infections, hospitalizations and deaths began in September.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said counties must report at least two weeks of lower risk levels before moving to categories where crowd capacities of 50% or 100% will be allowed.

“It’s not like we opened it up to everything, no matter what the color (risk rating) and the community spread was within your county,” Box said.

Many other states are also lifting coronavirus restrictions even as health experts have warned that the more contagious and possibly more lethal variant sweeping Britain will probably become the dominant source of infection in the U.S. by March. It has been reported in more than 20 states, including Indiana.

State health officials reported Wednesday that about 477,000 people have now received at least their first dose of the two-shot vaccines, and some 200,000 more have appointments scheduled. Those figures put more than half of Indiana’s residents ages 70 and older and 60% of health care workers at least on their way to being vaccinated.

Officials expect to extend vaccine eligibility to those ages 65-69 in the coming weeks but gave no timeline for offering shots to teachers as many other states have.

Dr. Lindsay Weaver, the state health department’s chief medical officer, said those ages 60 and older represent 93% of Indiana’s COVID-19 deaths and 64% of hospitalizations, so vaccinating those people will have the biggest impact.

Indiana’s weekly vaccine distribution from the federal government has grown by some 13,000 doses to about 90,000, Weaver said. But even with the additional doses, it will take significant time to vaccinate the 750,000 residents between ages 60 and 69, she said.

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

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

Cases: 1309459

Reported Deaths: 24018
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook5245929847
DuPage869211254
Will72209968
Lake64862965
Kane55955753
Winnebago31341460
Madison29912515
St. Clair27220504
McHenry27207278
Peoria21504284
Champaign19902139
Sangamon17870230
McLean17096171
Tazewell16095259
Rock Island14319305
Kankakee13576199
Kendall1241790
LaSalle11835232
Macon10284190
DeKalb9390118
Vermilion9101127
Adams8231117
Williamson7229126
Whiteside6913164
Boone642971
Ogle579978
Clinton570890
Grundy562971
Coles554894
Knox5344137
Jackson486763
Henry474863
Effingham468471
Livingston461883
Macoupin460681
Stephenson454280
Woodford443063
Marion4415115
Franklin433770
Monroe431790
Jefferson4167119
Randolph409684
Lee400151
Morgan377679
Logan365456
Fulton364850
Montgomery364773
Bureau355181
Christian352772
Fayette314054
Perry313059
Iroquois291064
Jersey263549
McDonough261144
Douglas255335
Saline251453
Lawrence239525
Shelby225037
Union223040
Crawford209325
Bond198924
Cass194824
Pike177451
Jo Daviess176824
Clark176732
Warren173946
Wayne173452
Hancock173030
Richland172140
Carroll171736
Ford170746
Edgar166939
White166526
Washington162825
Moultrie157526
Clay147343
Mason142842
Greene142433
Piatt141914
Johnson139814
De Witt139723
Mercer136933
Wabash134112
Massac131439
Cumberland128319
Menard118812
Jasper114317
Marshall99817
Hamilton82415
Schuyler7095
Brown6916
Pulaski6807
Stark61223
Edwards55812
Henderson52114
Calhoun5122
Scott4691
Alexander46211
Gallatin4534
Putnam4483
Hardin37012
Pope3073
Out of IL70
Unassigned02296

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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

Cases: 710607

Reported Deaths: 13248
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion968581722
Lake51908949
Allen39337672
Hamilton34643406
St. Joseph34306543
Elkhart27477432
Vanderburgh22099394
Tippecanoe21927213
Porter17987301
Johnson17571374
Hendricks16854310
Clark12715190
Madison12367337
Vigo12240244
Monroe11510166
LaPorte11204204
Delaware10382184
Howard9698211
Kosciusko9165114
Hancock8014139
Bartholomew7913155
Warrick7702155
Floyd7568176
Wayne6917198
Grant6855171
Boone6568100
Morgan6414138
Dubois6091117
Marshall5801109
Dearborn571276
Cass5698104
Henry5588101
Noble543683
Jackson494172
Shelby481395
Lawrence4349118
Gibson429589
Harrison429171
Clinton420953
Montgomery418986
DeKalb413284
Whitley382239
Huntington379780
Miami373365
Knox367189
Steuben367157
Putnam353460
Jasper352546
Wabash348178
Adams338253
Ripley335469
Jefferson318080
White308854
Daviess289999
Wells286881
Decatur279592
Fayette277362
Greene271085
Posey269533
Scott261553
Clay255445
LaGrange255470
Randolph236080
Washington231631
Spencer228131
Jennings225448
Fountain209345
Sullivan208042
Starke206252
Owen192756
Fulton192140
Jay186429
Carroll186120
Perry181436
Orange178353
Rush170824
Vermillion166343
Franklin166035
Tipton161543
Parke144616
Blackford133931
Pike130734
Pulaski114345
Newton104234
Brown100740
Crawford97914
Benton97413
Martin83115
Warren80215
Switzerland7698
Union70110
Ohio56011
Unassigned0408