Indiana governor won’t back mandatory COVID-19 vaccine

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Tuesday night that he would not support requiring residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine once such immunizations become available.

Posted: Oct 28, 2020 12:50 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Tuesday night that he would not support requiring residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine once such immunizations become available.

The question of mandating such vaccines was asked during a debate among the Republican governor and his two election opponents as Indiana has continued to face steep increases in coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations stretching back to when Holcomb lifted nearly all of COVID-19 restrictions last month.

“It shouldn’t be mandated but should be encouraged when it is safe,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb has faced criticism from some conservatives around the state that he has exceeded his authority with a statewide mask mandate and executive orders such as the stay-at-home order he issued in March aimed at slowing the coronavirus spread.

Holcomb’s stance comes even though Indiana law already requires 11 vaccines for public school students, including those for whooping cough, tetanus, measles and meningitis.

The governor said he wanted to make sure the vaccine can be quickly made available around the state.

“We want to make sure that we’re ready to rock and roll when it does come to Indiana, getting it out to the front line, getting it out to the most vulnerable, getting it out to our schools and long-term care centers,” Holcomb said.

Democratic challenger Myers, a physician and former state health commissioner, didn’t say whether he supported requiring a COVID-19 vaccine but said immunizations have been cost-effective life savers for many years. He said he hoped a coronavirus vaccine was available soon.

“We don’t know the full side-effect profiles yet and we don’t know all of those restrictions, but they are going to be coming,” Myers said.

Some opponents of Holcomb’s coronavirus actions have rallied around Libertarian Donald Rainwater, who has been firmly against the statewide mask mandate. He argued any vaccine will have side effects and health risks.

“It must be a citizen’s responsibility to determine what level of risk they’re willing to take, what level of risk they are willing to put their children under and government should not be involved in that decision,” Rainwater said.

State health officials on Tuesday added 51 coronavirus-related deaths to Indiana’s toll, which has reached 4,194, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus infections, since the state’s first death was reported in mid-March. Indiana’s number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has roughly doubled in the past month.

Tuesday’s night debate came a week after the three candidates sparred over Holcomb’s coronavirus orders and less than a week before Election Day, although at least 1.2 million votes have already cast with mail-in ballots or at early voting sites.

Holcomb has been able to keep up a front-runner campaign for a second four-year term with large advantages of name identification, fundraising and organization over Myers and Rainwater.

The hourlong debate was held with the three candidates and the moderator in separate areas of the WFYI-TV studio in Indianapolis because of COVID-19 precautions, according to organizers with the nonprofit Indiana Debate Commission.

Myers has argued that Holcomb shouldn’t have lifted nearly all of COVID-19 restrictions last month and should impose a statewide mask mandate that includes possible penalties for violators. Rainwater, meanwhile, maintains the governor has exceeded his authority with executive orders that include the statewide mask mandate.

The candidates split during Tuesday’s debate on the question of changing state laws that prohibit any possession or use of marijuana.

Myers said he supported allowing medical marijuana and removing criminal penalties for possessing small amounts. Rainwater called for complete legalization without any state regulation of marijuana sales.

Holcomb maintained his previous stance against any marijuana law changes as long as it is classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means it’s not accepted for medical use and has a high potential for abuse.

Holcomb said he didn’t believe there was enough medical research into the effects of marijuana use, even though states such as Illinois and Michigan have already legalized its recreational use and Ohio permits medical marijuana.

“I’m very suspect about looking to legalize controlled substances for revenue reasons,” Holcomb said. “I don’t do things just because 34 other states have looked the other way and said we don’t need federal approval, we’ll break the law, in essence.”

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Illinois Coronavirus Cases

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

Cases: 770088

Reported Deaths: 13782
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook3221226852
DuPage49311832
Will41826600
Lake39563669
Kane33695492
Winnebago20052290
Madison15643271
McHenry15160170
St. Clair14442274
Champaign1143663
Sangamon10792110
Peoria9949142
Kankakee9226117
Rock Island9110158
McLean909959
Tazewell7543122
Macon6874145
Kendall675756
LaSalle6587149
DeKalb537849
Adams499556
Vermilion431060
Boone411337
Whiteside3986133
Williamson393688
Clinton355763
Coles348962
Ogle309746
Knox304875
Effingham304029
Grundy303425
Henry290722
Jackson288538
Marion270066
Stephenson261441
Macoupin246725
Randolph245628
Livingston241938
Morgan237450
Bureau226355
Franklin224330
Monroe224148
Lee213338
Jefferson206363
Christian198446
Fayette195537
Woodford195331
Logan192824
Iroquois186934
McDonough165144
Fulton164215
Shelby149627
Douglas147019
Jersey141024
Montgomery127820
Union127428
Lawrence121114
Perry120833
Crawford119916
Saline119729
Warren117723
Bond117511
Jo Daviess114920
Carroll112527
Cass109323
Pike107630
Hancock102216
Wayne98935
Moultrie98111
Clay96722
Greene91534
Edgar91417
Richland88319
Clark84520
Piatt8335
Ford83025
Washington8103
Mercer80612
Johnson7868
Mason78526
Jasper71012
Cumberland69919
White68110
De Witt66518
Massac6617
Wabash6599
Menard5312
Pulaski4562
Marshall4417
Hamilton4224
Schuyler3541
Brown3436
Henderson3141
Stark3125
Calhoun2801
Alexander2704
Putnam2570
Scott2570
Edwards2524
Gallatin2163
Unassigned1930
Hardin1622
Pope1211
Out of IL110

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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

Cases: 367329

Reported Deaths: 6122
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion49899902
Lake31027490
Allen21054342
St. Joseph19435249
Elkhart19020249
Hamilton15894184
Vanderburgh11174138
Tippecanoe1041036
Porter951297
Johnson7969178
Hendricks7565165
Vigo6855108
Monroe613955
Madison5960126
Clark585487
Delaware5659108
LaPorte5377106
Kosciusko521449
Howard430580
Bartholomew391566
Warrick372776
Wayne370296
Floyd367080
Marshall347252
Grant334554
Hancock330465
Cass330032
Noble298150
Boone289756
Henry287541
Dubois284834
Jackson271838
Morgan267446
Dearborn258833
Gibson226533
Shelby223562
Knox217524
DeKalb215738
Clinton212725
Lawrence210152
Wabash201825
Miami197318
Adams195924
Daviess179951
Montgomery178029
Jasper174317
Steuben172316
Ripley171325
Harrison169726
Fayette167939
Whitley166117
LaGrange162534
Huntington158212
White156224
Putnam152231
Decatur149646
Wells147136
Randolph145725
Clay143126
Jefferson141119
Posey138422
Scott134027
Greene123654
Jay118817
Sullivan116018
Jennings109617
Starke107628
Fountain9988
Fulton99219
Spencer9918
Washington9169
Perry90321
Carroll83913
Franklin81628
Orange80128
Vermillion77013
Parke7496
Owen74411
Tipton68927
Blackford67317
Rush6688
Newton64015
Pike61021
Pulaski51721
Benton4653
Brown4346
Martin4136
Crawford3722
Union3122
Warren3013
Switzerland2825
Ohio2547
Unassigned0290