Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he would extend the state’s stay-at-home order Monday. The order will be extended until May 1.
Holcomb said the duration of the extension would be shorter than his previous extension but that it would not necessarily mean the state would lift the order or reopen nonessential businesses come May 1. Previously, he said the order’s extensions would renew in two-week increments to respond to “facts on the ground.”
Holcomb has yet to announce an exact date when Indiana would move to reopen its economy, but he has signaled the state aims to reopen in early May and that it would consider a regional approach in doing so.
He assured there is “a lot of work that needs to be done between now and May 1, and there will be after that, as well.”
“This (executive order) will allow us to make sure that we’re all on the same page as a state, in this together: one Indiana,” Holcomb said during today’s press conference.
Once in effect, Holcomb said his order extension would loosen restrictions on elective procedures.
On Thursday, President Donald Trump and his coronavirus task force proposed guidelines for states to reopen their economies. The guidelines include three phases, each marked by 14 days of declining positive COVID-19 cases. Restrictions, in accordance with the White House’s guidelines, would loosen with each successive phase. States, however, control when they will reopen segments of their economies and when.
The state plans to monitor positive case numbers daily to track its progress toward meeting White House’s guidelines, Holcomb said. He added that the state would aim to maintain supply chains for personal protective equipment, continue efforts to increase testing and build on its contact-tracing program. Holcomb said he expects to receive feedback from state businesses on how to best reopen the state’s economy by Wednesday, further informing his decision-making process.
Earlier this week, Holcomb and governors from Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin announced they would coordinate efforts to reopen their economies. Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said aims to gradually reopen his state’s economy starting May 1, but Holcomb cautioned that the seven states’ coordinated effort is “not to suggest (Indiana is) anchored to or on everyone else’s timeline; it just means we’re being good neighbors, and we’re going to share the information about where we are and how we’ll manage inside of our state and move forward together as a state and as a nation.”
Holcomb urged caution when opening the state’s economy during today’s press conference, saying one of the worst things that could happen is a resurgence of COVID-19 cases due to premature loosening of restrictions by the state.
Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said state officials, when making decisions to reopen the state’s economy, are considering a possible resurgence of the new coronavirus in the fall.
“Remember, this is the novel coronavirus; we don’t know exactly what it’s going to do; we can’t predict it,” Box said. “Certainly, there’s a thought process that we could see a wave of this again in the fall. And we’re not expecting the vaccine to even become available until the fourth quarter here, so we won’t have a lot of people who are immunized.
“But what we will have is better testing capabilities. We can test people; we can isolate and quarantine people; and we can make sure that we are able to stay on top of that. We will have the PPE that we need to be able to provide for our front-line EMS and other individuals. Our hospitals will have time to kind of recuperate and get back on their feet and have more of their personal protective equipment: So if it comes, we’ll be ready for it. And at that point in time, we’ll have to see what’s happening and keep track, through contact tracing of the number of cases that we have and increased testing, so (that) we’ll know what we need to do at that time.”
“We’re going to be very responsible, very methodical,” Holcomb said. “We’ll take this approach in an ongoing fashion.”