Southwestern Indiana officials react to easing state restrictions

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SOUTHWEST INDIANA (WEHT) — Governor Eric Holcomb announced Tuesday he would be easing state restrictions in two weeks. 

More than a year after the first confirmed case of  COVID-19, Indiana is trying to look forward. 

“We are prepared to meet all the challenges ahead and I say that because we have proven it over this past year,” Governor Holcomb said. 

On Wednesday, local southwestern Indiana health officials started discussing how they plan on keeping the spread of the virus at a minimum. 

The statewide mask mandate comes to an end in less than two weeks on April 6 and the governor is leaving it up to local leaders on whether to require masks or social gathering restrictions. 

In Vanderburgh County, medical experts say dropping the mask mandate or easing restrictions may have premature effects on virus spread. 

“We are a little concerned about seeing an uptick, post spring break whether or not the mask mandate stays in place or not,” said Deaconess Media Director of Emergency Departments Dr. Gina Huhnke. “We plan to continue to monitor that despite the announcement.” 

Vanderburgh County Commission President Ben Shoulders said he supports Governor Holcomb’s decision and he’s looking forward to the days and months ahead. 

“Vaccinations coupled with Governor Holcomb’s recent move that COVID is retreating and although no formal local decision has been made by the county as of yet, we will certainly be discussing this at length this Tuesday at our County Commission meeting on March 30.” Shoulders said. 

Shoulders said he wants to make it clear that COVID-19 is still spreading in the community and the pandemic is not over yet. 

“As county commissioners and community leaders, I think just making sure folks know we are not out of this yet, but we are in this together,” Shoulders said. 

Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke said Wednesday he is holding off on commenting on how the city will move forward until a news conference next Tuesday. 

In Dubois County, health leaders say they support the governor’s move in part because the spread is different in each community.

“It does give us a little leeway,” said Dubois County Health Dept. Administrator Shawn Werner. “It’s also nice to have the backing from the state as well, but we’re just going to have to do the best we can with the situation presented.” 

Restrictions already have been eased in Indiana, including seating capacity at venues like restaurants and bars.

(This story was originally published on March 24, 2021)

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