INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Governor Eric Holcomb is being criticized by Democratic gubernatorial candidate and former health commissioner Dr. Woody Myers about his decision not to roll Indiana back from Stage 5, which would tighten restrictions related to the coronavirus.
The criticism comes after the governor spent a significant amount of time during his Wednesday briefing lecturing Hoosiers about the increased positivity rate and hospitalizations.
Holcomb puts much of the blame for the downhill statistics regarding the virus on Hoosiers making choices to not wear masks or socially distance. His opponent Myers says it is the governor’s responsibility to take charge and make changes to better the health of the state.
“It’s clear to me that Indiana is now losing the battle against COVID-19,” Myers said during a press conference on Thursday.
“Don’t kid yourself, we are all paying this bill and the bill is coming due and throwing caution, ultimately ends up costing us all, it is the literal definition of whistling past the graveyard,” said Holcomb.
Holcomb says that contact tracing shows it is not large-scale events like football games and soccer games, or even going shopping that is causing the spread, but rather weddings, funerals, and house parties.
“It is just easier to just let your guard down and assume that the odds aren’t there working against you,” said Holcomb.
Despite where it is coming from, in the last month since entering Stage 5 Indiana has gone from a 3.9% 7-day positivity rate to a 5.3% rate.
“Because our numbers are not good and they are very concerning and it is especially concerning to me to see what is happening in our hospitals in several areas around the state,” said Dr. Kris Box during the governor’s weekly coronavirus briefing. Box participated in the briefing remotely after she and two of her family members tested positive for COVID-19.
Myers says it is the state’s job to intervene. He says Holcomb’s decision not to scale back reopening is political and that he is pushing the blame of the spread on events that wouldn’t have as large of a financial impact as it would if the state were to scale back on businesses like restaurants, professional games, or festivals.
“Indiana should immediately return to Stage 4 with capacity limits enforced in bars and restaurants. And if there’s not significant improvement, move back to number three. Vigilance is the only route to a healthier state,” said Myers.
Holcomb made multiple mentions during his weekly briefing Wednesday of people not wearing masks in circumstances when they are needed.
“A lot of folks not wearing the face coverings even some of our health professionals and again are at large events, there is just zero regard for social distancing,” said Holcomb.
Myers says enough of the slaps on the wrists, there needs to be consequences for people who continually break the rules.
“The vast majority of Hoosiers don’t need a consequence, they will do it because it’s the right thing to do when there’s a, I’d say not insignificant number, of what I call the hard-headed Hoosiers that do need to know that this is a statewide law, and that there can be and there, there will be consequences if they don’t follow the rules,” said Myers.
Holcomb says he will reevaluate the situation in a week and make changes if he feels they are necessary.