Holcomb stands firm on easing restrictions despite uptick in positivity, hospitalizations

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — During his weekly COVID-19 briefing, Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb stood firm in his decision to ease restrictions beginning Tuesday.

Holcomb responded to a comment made by Kentucky’s Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear asking him to reconsider lifting Indiana’s mask mandate.

“Gov. Beshear has my direct phone number and he’s happy to call; I’m not looking to change my mind. He has not contacted me. I did see his comments and I would say that I have always taken the approach, my style has been to respect all other governors and the decisions they have to make according to the numbers and what’s happening on the ground in their state,” Holcomb said.

Indiana’s data has shifted slightly over the past week, and there are now fewer counties in blue on the state’s advisory map. The positivity rate went from 3.3% to 3.9% and hospitalizations are at 657, an increase from last week.

However, Holcomb said the state’s ability to take care of sick Hoosiers remains strong, which is one of the biggest factors in his decision-making. Holcomb said that includes enough hospital staff, beds and personal protective equipment, all categories he said Indiana is doing OK in.

“This is not ‘mission accomplished.’ Yes, there’s some personal responsibility that will be demanded if we want to manage our way through this, and manage our way through this we are doing,” he said.

For some, managing is not enough. Indianapolis resident Daniel Gore said he delivered beds to long-term care facilities throughout the pandemic.

“You know, these are people that didn’t go outside on their own anyway and yet it was still getting into the care homes and seeing how vulnerable people are just getting knocked off left and right. I just wish we would do everything we could especially when we are so close to being out of it,” Gore said.

Meanwhile, Daniel Miller, who also lives in Indianapolis, said we have learned a lot since then.

“I think that we’re ready to take it into our own hands now and risk it if we want to. If we want to go out with a mask or without a mask, I think we are ready for it,” Miller said.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said there are new concerns around the 221 “breakthrough” cases in Indiana. Those are situations where people who have been fully vaccinated test positive.

But, she said, most of those cases are in people 80 and older.

The state has also seen double the number of COVID-19 variant cases in the past week. Box said that’s why it’s important to get the vaccine as soon as possible.