State to move to next phase of reopening

By TOM DAVIES
The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana's coronavirus restrictions will ease in parts of the state on Friday, two days ahead of schedule, to allow for more activity over the Memorial Day weekend, the governor said Wednesday.

The state health department reported 38 more coronavirus deaths, raising the state’s death toll from confirmed or presumed cases of COVID-19 to 1,864.

Starting Friday, a new state order will allow social gatherings of up to 100 people and retail stores and malls to operate at 75% capacity, Gov. Eric Holcomb said. Gatherings have been limited to 25 people and stores to 50% capacity under the state’s first easing of restrictions that took effect May 4.

Gyms, fitness centers, community pools and campgrounds will also be allowed to open under rules limiting the number of people and for distancing and cleaning.

Holcomb pointed to a decline in the number of COVID-19 infected people hospitalized and the continued availability of intensive care unit beds to treat those most seriously ill.

“We’ve earned the ability, I should say, the ability to continue to move forward,” Holcomb said.

At least 430 deaths, or about 23% of the state’s total COVID-19 deaths have occurred since the May 4 lifting of Indiana’s stay-at-home order that was imposed March 25.

Restaurants will continue to be limited to 50% capacity in dining rooms and summer youth camps can’t open until at least June 1. School buildings and grounds remain closed, as do bars, nightclubs and casinos.

The relaxed regulations had been scheduled to take effect Sunday. Tougher local restrictions are still being allowed, with the new steps not taking effect until at least June 1 in Indianapolis, northwestern Indiana’s Lake County and rural northern Indiana’s Cass County, where a large coronavirus outbreak infected hundreds of Tyson meatpacking plant workers.

Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, said she has concerns about greater coronavirus spread with the lifting of restrictions and encouraged steps such as keeping large gatherings outdoors, along with wearing masks when out in public.

Holcomb said the state can’t see big new waves of infections in order for further easing of state restrictions to happen as planned June 14.

“This is a public health issue that comes down to individual, personal responsibility at the end of the day,” Holcomb said. “All the regulations and all the guidance and recommendations that we put out there, ultimately, it comes down to people’s personal actions.”

Thirty of Indiana’s new confirmed COVID-19 deaths occurred Monday and Tuesday, while the remainder date back as far as May 3 and boost Indiana’s confirmed death toll to 1,716, the Indiana State Department of Health said.

The state agency’s statistics show that an additional 148 people have died from probable infections of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. That increases Indiana’s confirmed or presumed deaths to 1,864 since the first one was recorded on March 15.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, or death.



Here's what Stage 3 includes (courtesy of backontrack.in.gov):


Guidelines for all Hoosiers

• Hoosiers 65 and older and those with known
high-risk medical conditions should limit exposure at work and in their communities

• Continue remote work when possible

• Face coverings are recommended

• Social gatherings of up to 100 people may take place following the CDC social distancing guidelines. The coronavirus is often spread among groups of people who are in close contact in a confined space for an extended period of time. This limit applies to wedding receptions, parties, and other events where people are in close physical contact for extended periods of time

• Nursing homes remain closed to visitors; nursing home guidance will continue to be evaluated

• No travel restrictions


What opens?

• Retail stores and malls may move to 75% of capacity while maintaining social distancing

• Mall common areas, such as food courts and sitting areas, are limited to 50% capacity

• Gyms and fitness centers may open with restrictions. Class sizes and equipment must be spaced to accommodate social distancing. Limited class sizes. Equipment must be cleaned after each use, and employees are required to wear face coverings

• Playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, and similar facilities may open with social distancing guidelines in place

• Community pools may open according to CDC guidance• Campgrounds may open with social distancing limitations and sanitation precautions

• Movie theaters may open at 50% capacity; some theater companies have identified specific hygiene and social distancing guidelines

• The CDC will provide guidance about day camps and overnight camps


What remains closed?

• Bars and nightclubs

• Cultural, entertainment and sports venues

K-12 facilities and activities


Learn more about Stage 3 of the Back on Track Indiana plan here.

Click here to learn more about the plan overall.




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