Governor begins re-opening state
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]
Indiana is beginning to “re-open” after the governor shut down non-essential businesses approximately eight weeks ago.
The Harrison County Board of Commissioners, during its meeting Monday morning, decided to continue its executive order, which, among other things, closed county government buildings to the public. It is set to expire May 25.
In the past week, Harrison County has added four additional COVID-19-related of deaths, bringing the total number death in the county to nine; these latest persons were 84, 91, 95 and 104 years old.
As of Monday, the number of county residents who have been tested for the novel coronavirus totaled 660, with 138 of them confirmed positive. That’s 11 additional persons who have tested positive for COVID-19 since the previous week.
Statewide, 115,834 Hoosiers have been tested for the novel coronavirus, with 21,033 of them confirmed positive. As of Monday, 1,213 have died as a result of the virus, with another 113 believed to have been positive for COVID-19 although no test had been done on them.
To help with testing, the state has set up dozens of sites with another 30, including one in Harrison County, expected to open within the next week. Testing is still limited to certain individuals, including those with symptoms consistent with the virus, health care workers and first responders.
Persons needing to register for testing should call 1-888-634-1116.
On Friday afternoon, Gov. Eric Holcomb outlined his five-stage “Back on Track” plan for how things are to re-open, citing the state was currently in stage 1 with stage 2 to be implemented over a three-week period that began Monday.
Effective May 4, retail shops, commercial businesses and restaurants could open at 50% capacity (bar seating will remain closed); personal services, such as hair salons, can open by appointment only; and social gatherings can increase from a maximum of 10 people to no more than 25.
However, those were delayed in Lake and Marion counties until May 11, with Cass County, where a Tyson Foods pork processing plant had an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, delayed until May 18.
Churches in all 92 counties can begin having indoor worship services, provided congregations follow social-distancing guidelines, on Friday.
Holcomb said yesterday (Tuesday) that spiritual wellness is also important to one’s health.
According to stage 2 plans, though, persons 65 and older, as well as those with high-risk health conditions, are urged to remain at home, and office workers should continue to work remotely if possible.
The governor said how well Hoosiers do with stage 2 will determine whether to proceed with the proposed time line, which has the state moving to stage 3 on May 24.
Stage 3 allows for social gatherings of 100 or more people; retail shops increasing to 75% capacity; movie theaters opening at 50% capacity; and gyms and fitness centers opening provided they follow social-distancing restrictions.
Seniors and those at high risk will be advised to venture out with caution, and persons should continue to work remotely if able.
Stage 4 is targeted to begin June 14, allowing for gatherings of up to 250 people; restaurants can operate at 75% capacity, with bar seating opening at 50%; and retail shops can open at 100%. For the first time since closing, bowling alleys, as well as attractions such as museums and zoos, may open at 50% capacity, stage government buildings will re-open to the public and those who work in professional office buildings may return to those sites.
The goal is to reach stage 5 by July 4, with virtually all restrictions being lifted while Hoosiers continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene.
At any time along the way, the state could temporarily halt the progression of the plan or even return to an earlier stage.
It was announced Monday that the Bureau of Motor Vehicles has re-opened 55 locations statewide to allow Hoosiers to conduct transactions that can’t be completed online.