Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb responds to state's COVID-19 spike
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - In the last two days, Indiana has seen more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases. Both Thursday and Friday saw higher daily totals than Indiana has ever seen. Friday, Governor Eric Holcomb spoke out about the state's recent spike. The governor came to South Bend Friday to speak to the South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce about Indiana's recent economic successes. Afterwards he fielded questions about the state's COVID-19 case spike.
"We do take it day by day and week by week," Governor Holcomb said. "Wednesday to Wednesday is when we typically make any changes, but there's a lot of factors that go into what we do. Obviously, that's what I mentioned at lunch, and that's the balance of our lives and our livelihoods. We've seen a lot more activity in terms of schools, both K-12 and college and more businesses trying to figure out how to safely return."
Holcomb said he does not believe Indiana needs to roll back to a previous phase of its Back on Track Plan. The state is in the fifth and final stage of that plan, but Governor Holcomb said that comes with a caveat.
"When we say Stage 5, that does not mean it's over," Governor Holcomb said. "It just means this is the scenario we are operating in right now. This is reality. So, you can call it new normal or new reality."
Indiana's spike in daily new cases has gotten the attention of nearby travel hot spots like Chicago whose mayor recently said she is considering having all travelers from Indiana to Chicago quarantine for 14 days before going out and about in the city if numbers do not start to come down in the next week. Governor Holcomb said the state needs to stick to what it knows best.
"We need to continue to focus on what works in the State of Indiana to drive down the numbers, to slow the spread," Holcomb said.
He said that means continuing to wear masks and limiting crowd sizes and maintaining social distance from each other. South Bend Regional Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jeff Rea said he does not believe such a measure would be beneficial to either Indiana or Chicago.
"To me, it seems like a bit of an impossible undertaking," Rea said. "I don't know how you execute that practically. Obviously, each of the states are interconnected. Our economies are pretty well connected. It's pretty seamless, unless you see the sign on the side of the road, you wouldn't know when you left Indiana and entered Illinois."
Governor Holcomb is up for re-election in November. His opponent Dr. Woody Myers released a statement in response to the Governor's remarks on Friday.
“Two weeks after Gov. Holcomb recklessly moved Indiana into Stage 5 and despite public health experts warning the pandemic was rapidly resurging, I am now calling on the Governor to take action to save Hoosier lives," the statement read. "Gov. Holcomb’s current plan is clearly moving us in the wrong direction as many of the 1,832 new cases and 19 deaths today were, sadly, preventable,” Dr. Myers recommends:
• Reversing course from Stage 5, returning to an earlier stage of the reopening plan
• Issuing new guidance to schools undergoing in-person learning to switch to distance learning (some schools are already doing this)
• Instituting a true mask mandate enforceable by current state law
• Declaring a public health emergency that warrants no-excuse absentee voting to avoid long lines of Hoosiers in close contact with one another during this election cycle
Continuing with Stage 5 of the reopening plan puts Hoosiers on a similar road as the Trump Administration, which only drives Hoosiers to tragic and cruel outcomes, risking our lives.”
With St. Joseph County not ruling out a possible rollback to a previous stage of the Back on Track Plan, Governor Holcomb said it's something he would support if the county feels it is the best course of action.