(INDIANAPOLIS) – Mayor Joe Hogsett says the surge in COVID-19 cases hasn’t reached the point of requiring a return of restrictions, but says Indy “may have no choice” if things don’t improve.
Indianapolis lifted a mask mandate in June, and ended restaurant capacity limits three weeks later. At the time, Marion County was averaging 27 cases a day. Now, there are 28 patients a day landing in the hospital, and nearly 600 new cases a day overall.
Hogsett says he talked Monday with Marion County health director Virginia Caine, and says he’s concerned about the increasing strain on Indianapolis hospitals. The Indiana Department of Health’s central Indiana region, which covers Indy and its suburbs, has 150 open intensive-care beds. 80% of the region’s ICU beds are occupied, about a third of those by COVID patients.
Marion County is rated orange, or “approaching high risk,” on the state’s weekly risk assessment, based on its high number of cases and a positivity rate over 11%.
Hogsett says no decisions have been made yet on any new restrictions. But he says the best way to avoid them is to get vaccinated. Indy’s vaccination rate is above the state average, but about three out of seven eligible residents still haven’t gotten the shot.
Hogsett says people who refuse to get vaccinated can’t then turn around and be outraged if restrictions do return because of the virus’s accelerating spread. “You can’t have it both ways,” Hogsett says.
Governor Holcomb and state health commissioner Kristina Box have both said they have no intention of resuming the state mask order which expired in April. Box notes many local governments simply ignored it. Hogsett says he’s confident most Indianapolis residents would mask up if a new mask order becomes necessary.
The City-County Council would have to approve any mask mandate or capacity limits.