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State to begin stage 3 earlier than planned

State to begin stage 3 earlier than planned State to begin stage 3 earlier than planned

Stage 3 of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s plan to re-open the state will take place Friday rather than Sunday, it was announced today (May 20) during the governor’s update. The next stage will start at 12:01 Friday morning for all but Cass, Lake and Marion counties.

This phase includes gatherings of up to 100 people, but Dr. Kristina Box, commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, said she suggested holding gatherings outside when possible.

Starting Friday, local restaurants can go up to 50% capacity and retail stores or shopping malls can go to 75% capacity.

Movie theaters can re-open at 50% capacity, and community pools can also open. Raceways can re-open and hold races but without spectators. Gyms, YMCAs and fitness studios can re-open with guidelines. Community parks, such as basketball and tennis courts, and soccer and baseball fields, along with campgrounds can also re-open.

Recreational sports practices can resume except for sports that involve physical contact. This does not apply to school-related athletic activities. The governor said the state’s department of education continues to keep its facilities closed for sports and the state is working with the Indiana High School Athletic Association to best help resume these programs.

Summer day camps can open starting June 1, but this does not apply to camps where campers stay overnight.

Holcomb said he is also extending his order that prohibits utility companies from shutting off service, mortgage forecloses and evictions. The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is also extending deadlines for acquiring or renewing driver licenses, vehicle registration and other business.

These extensions will now last until July 1.

When asked today about casinos re-opening, Holcomb said he is looking at allowing them to re-open possibly in Stage 4, which is scheduled to begin June 14.

During the update, it was reported the state had another 58 positive cases of COVID-19. There have now been 29,274 Hoosiers test positive. The state has had 1,716 deaths due to the novel coronavirus, with 38 fatalities reported in the past 24 hours.

Testing continues to rise, with 6,442 Hoosiers getting tested in the last day. There have now been 195,738 tests performed in Indiana. The state has a goal of testing all long-term care facility employees by mid-June.

ISDH testing sites, like the one in Harrison County, has expanded to include essential workers, Box said. She said people with symptoms or people who are at high-risk, such as pregnant women, should consider visiting one of these testing sites.

Box added hospitalizations have dipped in the past month. Indiana had 118 hospitalizations on April 14, but the number has steadily declined to 53 on May 15.

The Indiana Department of Transportation provided an update to major interstate projects, which many have moved ahead of schedule due to a lack of traffic while many Hoosiers followed stay-at-home orders. The department’s commissioner said traffic volume dipped by 30% when the outbreak started compared to the early part of March. A graph showed some traffic volumes were more than 50% lower. The commissioner said this proved Hoosiers have taken the state’s stay-at-home order seriously.

This included work on Interstate 265 in Floyd County to move ahead more quickly than first anticipated.

Indiana State Police encouraged Hoosiers to be smart behind the wheel this holiday weekend and was happy to report crashes and fatalities were down during the Easter weekend. He reminded Hoosiers that Indiana will be a hands-free state when driving starting July 1.

Holcomb is expected to hold another update Friday afternoon.