The state of Indiana will remain parked at Phase 4.5 in the Back on Track reopening plan for another 30 days, which keeps in place capacity restrictions for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues.
Governor Eric Holcomb said Wednesday the state’s mask mandate will remain in place until at least September 25. It was instituted on July 27 and set to expire this week.
During his weekly pandemic-focused news briefing, Governor Holcomb said the state continues to see a positivity rate of COVID-19 higher than what state health officials would like to see.
“On one hand, we’re pleased that we’ve been holding steady, kind of ‘steady-eddy Indiana’ in terms of positivity rate. But we don’t want that to trend up, we’d like to see it trend down even more so,” said Holcomb.
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, the state positivity rate dipped to 6.6%, down from 7.3% measured on August 17.
Holcomb and ISDH Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said they would like to see the rate below 5%, but they also say that is not the only data point the state is monitoring before dropping the mask mandate or advancing the reopening to stage five.
“That is the million-dollar question. It would certainly make it a lot easier on everyone if there was just one single source of input or data or information where you could say ‘if below 5%,’” said Holcomb. “But you cannot just pull out one piece of information without understanding how everything else is affecting that rate.”
Box also announced the state has developed a new colored, mapping system for the COVID-19 dashboard which will make it easier to track by county positive cases of the disease.
Box said the online tool will make it easier for school administrators to monitor for outbreaks in their home or neighboring counties.
“The goal is to provide an easy to understand system that local and school officials can use to make informed decisions,” said Box.
The new tool evaluates county status on three key metrics: the number of new cases per 100,000 residents in the past week, the percent positivity rate, and the change in the percent positivity from the previous week.
“I want to emphasize that this score does not trigger a requirement of action, but it provides information and recommendations,” Box said.
To watch the full briefing, which includes an update on Indiana’s election plans and a new plan to resolve tenant-landlord disputes, click on the video below: