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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Indiana’s efforts to control the coronavirus pandemic are increasingly happening at the local level.

The state has stepped up efforts to bring the virus under control at nursing homes. Governor

Holcomb began deploying National Guard troops last month to help with routine tasks to take the

pressure off overburdened staff, and the health department is increasing infection control training for longterm care staffers.

The age and health conditions of nursing home residents put them more at risk for serious illness or

death if they contract COVID-19. Nursing homes represent just over half Indiana’s deaths from the

virus. That proportion had hovered around 60% for months, but has been gradually declining

over the last six weeks or so as deaths elsewhere climb.

Holcomb says he wants to stay away from a blanket policy for the state. The most recent executive

order links state-mandated gathering limits to the color-coded COVID risk scores calculated weekly

by the Indiana State Department of Health. Holcomb says he and health department leaders are

conferring with mayors, county commissioners, and the Association of Indiana Municipalities about

taking the lead on getting the word out about the importance of masks and other precautions, with

the state offering assistance where it’s needed.

Indiana received $300 million in federal money for local health costs in the pandemic relief bill

which passed in March. Governor Holcomb says the last $60 million will go out this month. He says

he’s been on the phone this week with Indiana Senators Todd Young and Mike Braun about getting

more flexibility in how and when to spend both that money and any additional relief Congress may

pass. The governor says cities and counties will need to pour money into testing and contact tracing — and, eventually, vaccinations — at least through next summer.