First published March 31 in TheStatehouseFile.com.
At the weekly COVID-19 update that he announced would be his last, Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday discussed plans for more mass vaccination sites and urged Hoosiers to continue being cautious as state restrictions begin to loosen.
“There is some personal responsibility that will be demanded if we want to continue to manage our way through this,” Holcomb said.
Although Holcomb has extended the public health emergency for another 30 days, the state’s mask mandate is set to become an advisory April 6. The governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, has said he plans to ask Holcomb to keep the mask mandate because Hoosiers often cross state lines into Kentucky. Currently Kentucky’s positivity rate is 2.9%, and Indiana’s has risen slightly to 3.9%.
“I’m not looking to change my mind, but I’m happy to hear [Beshear’s] reasoning behind his statement,” Holcomb said.
On Monday the state opened vaccine eligibility to those 30 and older and on Wednesday to those 16 and older. A total of 1,133,956 Hoosiers have been fully vaccinated, according to the state’s vaccine dashboard.
The Indiana Department of Health removed the requirement that one has to be an Indiana resident so college students or new residents can get the vaccine. Currently the only requirement to get the vaccine is to be 16 or older.
Hoosiers who are 16 and 17 need parental permission to get the vaccine and can only get the Pfizer vaccine due to FDA limitations. Those who are 15 and younger cannot get the vaccine because the current vaccinations available are not authorized for those ages.
Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for the Indiana State Department of Health, said those who are 15 and younger could be vaccinated by this summer since trials with Pfizer have been going well.
“In the meantime, the most important thing we can all do to protect our children who cannot yet get vaccinated, is to get vaccinated ourselves,” Weaver said.
Hoosiers can schedule their vaccines online or by calling 2-1-1. Those who are unable to leave home can sign up to schedule an at-home vaccination from emergency medical services through the Homebound Hoosiers program.
There will be a mass vaccination site in Gary and at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway throughout April.
According to the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, there has been 1 new death reported and a total of 13,039 deaths in Indiana as of March 30. Since last week, there have been 1,127 new positive COVID-19 cases.
The dashboard’s color-coded positivity map showed there are no counties in red, two in orange, 53 in blue and 37 in yellow. The color-coded map ranks counties according to their positivity rates, meaning red is 15% or more, orange is 10% to 14.9%, blue is less than 5%, and yellow is 5% to 9.9%.
Currently, COVID-19 claims 5.6% of ICU hospital beds in Indiana. There are 657 COVID-19 patients in hospitals statewide.
“Now is a time for incredible hope and light,” said Box. “I see that ability for Hoosiers to get back to the lives that we’re missing.”
Alexa Shrake is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.