INDIANAPOLIS– Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday the state will stay in phase 4.5 until Aug. 27. Holcomb said local governments could impose more stringent guidelines, if they choose to. State government offices will begin reopening on Aug. 17.
In stage 4.5, restaurants are allowed to operate at 75 percent capacity, and bars and nightclubs are permitted to open at 50 percent capacity. Social gatherings of up to 250 people are allowed, and tourism and entertainment venues like museums and zoos are allowed to open at 50 percent capacity. Movie theaters and bowling alleys can also open at half-capacity.
Gov. Holcomb also extended the moratorium on shutoffs and evictions to Aug. 14. The Evansville Water and Sewer Utility voted two weeks to extend their moratorium on shutoffs to Aug. 14.
Dr. Box reported the positivity rate in Indiana is increasing. On June 18, the positivity rate was 4.5 percent. As of July 21, the positivity rate is up to 6.8 percent. Later this week, Dr. Box says the state health department’s COVID-19 dashboard will add a new positivity map that will show the 7-day positivity rate by each county.
A statewide mask mandate began Monday for all Hoosiers above 7 years old. Attorney General Curtis Hill is challenging this mandate, saying the governor doesn’t have the authority to mandate people wear face masks.
The Department of Workforce Development is investigating Pandemic Unemployment Assistance fraud claims. Dr. Payne says there is an increase nationwide in identity theft and fraud in unemployment filings. Earlier this month, a Ft. Branch mother and daughter were charged with wire fraud. Investigators say they were part of a well-organized fraud ring exploiting the COVID-19 crisis to commit large-scale fraud against state unemployment insurance programs
The Indiana State Department of Health reported 630 new COVID-19 cases in the state Wednesday, along with eight additional deaths. Those numbers bring the statewide totals to 64,299 and 2,733 respectively.
(This story was originally published on July 29, 2020)