INDIANAPOLIS (WPTA21) - Indiana's current COVID-19 restrictions will remain in place until April 5, and all Hoosiers will soon be eligible to sign up to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb gave a statewide address to Hoosiers Tuesday evening to recap just how far we've come since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Touching on the highs and lows, the state's Republican governor had this to say: "Today, we're in a different and better place."
The current state public health emergency will expire on March 31. Indiana Gov. Holcomb said he will renew the public health emergency for another 30 days.
The current COVID-19 restrictions will be extended through April 5, in part because of the large number of out-of-state visitors the NCAA tournament has brought in.
On April 6, Gov. Holcomb said capacity decisions at events and venues will be made at the local health department level.
The Indiana State Department of Health will continue to provide metrics to those local health departments.
Also on April 6, Holcomb said the face covering mandate will become an advisory.
Face coverings will remain mandatory in all state buildings and facilities and in all vaccination and COVID testing sites until further notice. K-12 schools will continue under current requirements through the remainder of the 2020-21 school year.
Some health experts worry it is premature to lift the statewide restrictions.
“We put a lot of restrictions in place last year, there was some initial hesitation by some parts of the population to comply with some of those orders,” said Brian Dixon, an epidemiologist at Indiana University’s Fairbanks School of Public Health. “And then what we saw in the fall is that rates went up, they skyrocketed because people were not following precautions.”
Holcomb strongly encouraged Hoosiers to keep wearing masks to protect themselves, and he said he will continue to wear one.
He also said on March 31, COVID-19 vaccine eligibility will be open to all Hoosiers ages 16 and up.
He pointed to the current cases, positivity rate, hospitalizations, and deaths dropping drastically since January as a reason for the relaxed restrictions.
Three vaccines have been also approved for use, and more than 970,000 Hoosiers are fully vaccinated.
"We plainly said, public health policy and the common good must go hand and hand with personal responsibility, not either-or," Gov. Holcomb said.
"Indiana indeed rose to the challenge, time and time again. We as a state have come a long way, and we've done it together."
Hoosiers age 40 and older, along with healthcare workers, long-term care residents, first responders who are regularly called to the scene of an emergency to render medical assistance, and educators and school support staff through grade 12 are now eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Click here to find a state-run clinic or visit other retail pharmacy websites like CVS, Walgreens and Meijer.
As of Tuesday, a total of 600 Hoosiers were hospitalized with the virus.
More than 679,000 Hoosiers tested positive for the virus. The death toll now stands at 12,533.
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