(INDIANAPOLIS) — Governor Holcomb is sticking with plans to lift a mask order and state
gathering limits on Tuesday. But he’s warning Indiana’s fight against the coronavirus isn’t over.
COVID-19 is accelerating again in most of the eastern two-thirds of the U-S. Indiana is averaging
a thousand cases a day, the highest pace in five weeks. And the last week saw Indiana’s first
cases of more dangerous Brazilian, South African and California variants. President Biden and the
Centers for Disease Control have urged governors lifting mask orders to reconsider. And Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in an interview he’d urge Holcomb to keep the mask order in place.
Holcomb acknowledges there’s been an uptick in cases, but says that’s not the only number he’s
watching. He says Indiana hospitals now have the space, manpower and equipment to handle an
increase in patients.
About a quarter of Hoosiers have gotten at least a first dose of vaccine, and Holcomb notes 10% more have had the virus itself. And he points out vaccination rates are much higher among those at highest risk for serious illness.
While the state mask order is going away, at least four counties, including Marion County, will still
require masks. They’ll also be required at schools, in state buildings, and at coronavirus testing
and vaccination sites. Holcomb and state health commissioner Kristina Box recommend wearing
them even where they’re not required.
Box says the state is watching closely for virus mutations, especially in the small number of
people — about 200 so far — who have become infected even after being fully vaccinated. That’s
about one of every four-thousand vaccinated Hoosiers. Box says most of those have been people
over 80 whose immune systems aren’t as strong, but says while the vaccines are believed to be
effective against the variants, a surge in those “breakthrough” cases would suggest the virus has
begun to outsmart the vaccine. And she cautions the more people catch the virus, the more
opportunity it has to mutate in new ways.
As for Beshear, Holcomb says, “He has my cell number,” but hasn’t called.
“I don’t plan on conducting state negotiations via the media,” Holcomb says. “I’m not looking to change my mind, but I’m happy to hear his explanation on those statements that he made.”