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(KOKOMO, Ind.) – Indiana COVID-19 cases have been declining for three weeks, but the state remains under a public health emergency.

Indiana law allows a governor to renew an emergency declaration 30 days at a time. Governor Holcomb has done so every month since last March, most recently last week. The governor says he reviews each month whether another extension is needed, and says he’s “looking forward” to the day it isn’t.

But while COVID hospitalizations have declined by one-third over the last three weeks, the virus still has more than 1,700 Hoosiers hospitalized, nearly five times the low point reached in June. And non-COVID patients still need hospital care too — in all, more than three-quarters of Indiana’s intensive care beds have been occupied for the last seven weeks. Holcomb notes several hospitals are still periodically turning patients away, and National Guard troops have been sent to some hospitals to help with staffing needs.

The emergency declaration was the basis for Indiana’s mask mandate and gathering limits, but those measures ended six months ago. However, the emergency status still makes Indiana eligible for more federal money. It’s also allowed Holcomb to loosen licensing requirements to make it easier for medical students and retired or out-of-state doctors and nurses to help out. And Holcomb says he’s still hearing frequent requests for similar steps to fill other jobs hollowed out by the pandemic, from pharmacists to school bus drivers.

Legislators can override an emergency declaration but haven’t done so. 37 House Republicans backed a resolution to end the emergency declaration in March, when Indiana was averaging about 800 COVID cases a day, a third of the current pace. That measure never received a hearing. Seven of those lawmakers introduced a new attempt last month, when the House reconvened to approve new legislative districts, but House and Senate leaders had made clear in advance they’d consider no proposals other than redistricting.