Governor Eric Holcomb says he will on Monday extend the stay-at-home order for two additional weeks in the ongoing fight against COVID-19, now tentatively scheduled to lift April 20. The state says the order includes restrictions on bars and restaurants.
During the state’s daily pandemic briefing on Friday, Holcomb said the public health emergency order will remain in place for another 30 days.
“We’ve taken the two-week approach because it gives us more flexibility. We’re more nimble to be able to address the executive order in its entirety and adjust,” said Holcomb. “We can go through line by line and tweak if we need to, and we don’t have to wait a full month.”
The governor also announced Indiana has been granted a federal Major Disaster Declaration, which provides federal funds to help communities recover from COVID-19. The money can be used to cover costs of emergency needs including crisis counseling, food programs, temporary shelters, protective equipment, safety resources, and personnel.
As the state prepares for a probable surge in the number of positive COVID-19 cases, and the concern of overwhelming Indiana hospitals, the Indiana National Guard is leading efforts to scout locations for possible remote hospitals.
“These initial assessments will evaluate sites across the state over the next few days,” said Brigadier General Dale Lyles, Adjutant General, Indiana National Guard.
Lyles says his team will meet with representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Indiana State Department of Health to examine possibilities.
“Considerations for alternate care facilities range from closed hospital wings to establishing hospitals in large scale facilities. No facilities, no specific locations have been determined at this time,” said Lyles.
Lyles says the goal is to collect quickly assess how best to expand Indiana’s hospital bed capacity if needed.
That assessment may not come too soon. Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box says her agency is exploring two possible “hot spots” in the state for a quickly growing number of cases for COVID-19, including the southwest region and southeast region near Cincinnati and Louisville.
“I want Hoosiers to continue to take social distinct distancing seriously. These are not normal times, and we cannot act as if they are,” said Box.
With the Easter holiday coming up next weekend, Dr. Box urges Hoosier families to continue to take social distancing seriously.
“I know it’s hard to think about missing a family gathering. But the best thing we can do to protect our loved ones is to follow the guidelines and flatten this curve as quickly as possible,” said Box.
Box says the best way to keep from overwhelming hospitals, the healthcare system, and healthcare workers is to keep people healthy.
Watch Governor Eric Holcomb’s daily press briefing on the COVID-19 Indiana response in the video below: