INDIANAPOLIS – As the country surpassed 33,000 cases and 400 deaths, including the deaths of seven Hoosiers, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb mandated a stay-at-home executive order in an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
“Our neighbors and our economy need to see that we’re taking steps that will help flatten the curve to ensure our health care system is able to treat the most vulnerable,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb commended those who had voluntarily self-isolated and restaurants that had accommodated carryout-only orders but maintained that not everyone had complied with the order.
“We know that’s not being followed by all and we know it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bushel,” Holcomb said. “The next two weeks are critical… if we’re going to slow the spread. And we must slow the spread.”
Clark and Floyd County health officials also mandated further local restrictions Monday, in part to align with measures taken by Louisville Metro government in recent days, since many Southern Indiana and Louisville residents cross the bridge for work or other activities.
The mandates state that starting at 9 p.m. Monday, all non-essential public-facing retail businesses must close for walk-in service until further notice.
Those affected include, but are not limited to, automobile dealers (auto service still available), furniture stores, electronics and appliance stores, cosmetic stores, salons and barber shops, tattoo parlors, clothing and shoe stores, jewelry stores, sporting good stores, music stores, hobby and craft stores, florists, office supply and stationary stores, libraries, fitness centers, karate schools and auctions, according to a news release.
Businesses which will be allowed to remain open, but some with restrictions, include auto and appliance repair shops, car rentals, child care centers, home and garden supply stores, banks, credit unions and other financial services, grocery stores and markets, liquor stores, pharmacies, gas stations, supercenters, pet stores and restaurants offering curbside and carryout.
“Thank you for your cooperation and patience,” Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said, according to the release. “Together we can and will tackle this challenge.”
In his noon address, Holcomb compared Indiana to New York, a state that’s seen a virus surge with over 15,000 cases, nearly one-half of all 33,000-plus cases in the United States.
“Their hospitals are being overrun. That’s what we’re trying to manage and avoid, which is why we need to slow the spread and we need to do it now,” he said.
Holcomb’s address included slides on the progress of the disease in Indiana, which had its first positive case of COVID-19 on March 6.
Seven Hoosiers have died, according to the Indiana State Health Department, and 259 have tested positive for the virus. A total of 1,960 people have been tested, including 466 in the last 24 hours as private labs have ramped up testing.
New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan issued a statement Monday backing the governor’s decision, saying that without enough testing available, social distancing is the safest measure.
“I understand the financial and emotional strain that this can put on people,” Gahan said, according to the release. “I understand that many residents live paycheck to paycheck, and have real concerns about their financial status during this crisis. And that is why I am urging our state and federal leaders to enact emergency legislation to protect people during these uncertain times.
“We have to ensure that people who want to be tested can be tested, and those that need to stay home are not suffering a devastating financial loss. I have been and will continue calling on our state and federal leaders to provide the assistance that many of us need.”
Many government functions would be reduced to prevent in-person meetings, with only essential departments such as state hospitals, prison staff, child protective services and the National Guard in full force. Others, such as unemployment, insurance and welfare applications would move to online call centers to process the thousands of applications of last week.
At this time last year, 3,100 Hoosiers applied for unemployment over the course of a week. Last week saw over 54,000 applications, Holcomb said.
The Stay-At-Home webpage clarifies that the National Guard still hasn’t been called to do more than logistical planning and local law enforcement and the Indiana State Police would enforce the order. Fines and licenses for food establishments continuing in-person dining may be levied to enforce carryout-only options.
The website assures readers that law enforcement wouldn’t be stopping vehicles traveling for an “essential activity” or walking in their neighborhoods.
According to the executive order, approximately two dozen professions fall under the critical services category, including food-related industries, mail and delivery, media, critical construction trades, residential facilities and home-care businesses, transportation services and funeral services.
Essential errands, such as grocery shopping or caring for a family member, are not prohibited.
In an additional executive order, Holcomb extended active licenses by 60 days and said law enforcement officers wouldn’t be stopping Hoosiers for expired driver’s licenses or vehicle registrations.
An emergency operations center in Marion County serves as a hub for medical supplies, such as ventilators, masks, gloves and gowns. Marion County accounts for 110 of the state’s 259 cases.
Indiana joins several other states, including neighboring states Illinois, Ohio and Michigan, with a stay-at-home order. At least six other states have their own orders.
“This disease is killing people. Time is of the essence,” Holcomb said. “The best thing we can do for each other, for this generation and the next and for our economy is get a handle of the virus by slowing the spread.”
For more information on stay-at-home, visit https://www.in.gov/gov/3232.htm.