(INDIANAPOLIS) – Governor Holcomb says Hoosiers need to recognize work-from-home orders and cancellations of large gatherings as “the new normal” as the state seeks to control the spread of coronavirus.
Indiana is the seventh state to issue official recommendations against large gatherings. The advisory issued Thursday urges cancellations of nonessential gatherings of more than 250 people.
Holcomb says it’s critical to take the virus seriously and get out in front of its spread.
“You’re living in a parallel universe if you don’t think this is real. This is real,” Holcomb says. “The numbers are going to continue to increase, by the very definition of what this virus is. We need to do everything that we can do [regarding] what we have control of: our own lives.”
Holcomb says being prepared isn’t panicking. He says Hoosiers can still go about their daily lives — just not in large concert or sports venues. He says people need to accept that it’s unclear how long restrictions will need to remain in place to “flatten the curve” of the virus’s spread so hospitals aren’t overwhelmed.
As of Friday morning, Indiana had just 12 confirmed cases in seven counties, but that’s partly because a shortage of testing kits has prompted health workers to make decisions about when a test is needed. Health commissioner Kris Box says the state has enough kits to test 100 people — she’s expecting more soon, and says the state is also working with a private lab. Box says the state is trying to do tests in batches — one kit can test up to 50 people, but you can’t just do a couple and stick the leftover chemicals in the fridge till the next one. The state is prioritizing people who work at hospitals and long-term care facilities. But if someone’s showing symptoms and has been in contact with an infected person, but isn’t dangerously ill, he’s likely to be told to self-quarantine, and won’t show up in the count.
While Indiana has joined the ranks of states which have banned mass gatherings, Holcomb has not followed the lead of a handful of states to cancel school statewide. A growing number of schools are switching to e-learning for the next few weeks, and the state will grant schools a waiver to miss as many as 20 of the required 180 instructional days. But Holcomb says in districts where there are no confirmed cases, it’s better to leave it to schools to assess the situation locally.