Indiana Legislative Update – Encouraging Personal Responsibility and Local Decisions

Officially cutting the ribbon to open the 2021 Indiana State Fair Friday morning, Governor Holcomb and Lt. Governor Crouch conspicuously shared the stage with Commissioner of the IN Department of Health Dr. Kristina Box. Holcomb noted that while the Delta variant is “uber-infectious,” but with 40+% of all Hoosiers vaccinated, the state is in a different place that it was last year when the fair was canceled. The Governor also used the opportunity to encourage Hoosiers to take seriously their responsibility to protect themselves, their families, and the broader community.

The fair has added sanitizing stations and has the advantage of taking place mostly outdoors where the virus spreads less effectively. Vaccinations will be offered at the Exposition Hall during the fair along with other childhood vaccines that families may have missed over the last year.

Later that morning, Dr. Box and State Medical Director Dr. Lindsay Weaver conducted a briefing to share the latest COVID news. Dr. Box kicked off noting that infection levels are about where they were a year ago with the number of daily cases and positivity rates a bit higher than last year. However, we have more tools this year, esp. with “three highly-effective vaccines.” Delta variant spreads more than twice as easily and infected individuals are showing higher viral loads than previous, which is what makes it more transmissible. Hospitalizations are up, too, though still below the peaks and the number of deaths remain low.

There are no new requirements or rules, though the recommendation to get vaccinated ASAP remains. Dr. Box emphasized several times the significant value in layering protections on top of vaccination including wearing masks and sanitizing hand, esp. if you have any vulnerable individuals or those not able to get vaccinated in your circle. If Hoosiers don’t use every tool to contain COVID – vaccines, masks, and hand washing – “it will continue to mutate, and we will constantly be playing whac-a-mole for the foreseeable future” confirmed Dr. Box.

When asked why the state is not requiring masks in schools per the CDC guidance, Box reiterated multiple times that “local elected officials have made it clear that they want to make decisions for their constituents.” That factor combined with readily available vaccines and strong information allows the state to respect that wish and let those decisions be made locally with guidance and recommendations from the State.

Finally, the Governor issued a new Executive Order on Thursday continuing several of the health-based provisions in place for months.

Updated COVID Numbers:

  • Friday, the State reported 1461 new positive cases (771,299 total), 6 new deaths (13,576 total), 5,336 new individuals tested (3,669,635 total), and 23,295 new tests administered (11,225,411 total). There are an additional 429 probable Covid-19 deaths (symptoms & exam consistent w/Covid-19, but no positive test received).  All of this is on the ISDH dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov.
  • The positivity rate for ALL tests administered is 8.4% from the beginning of testing and 6.8% for the 7-days ending on 07/23. The positivity rate for unique individuals is 21% since the beginning of testing and is 14% for the 7 days ending 07/23 (rates trail by 7 days to account for lagging reports).
  • The color-coded county metrics (combines: new cases per 100,000 people in the last week and 7-day positivity rates) updated Wednesday keeps Posey & Vanderburgh Counties in yellow (moderate risk) and moves Gibson & Warrick Counties to orange (approaching high risk). You can find these metrics and how they are calculated by choosing the “County Metrics” tab above the map of Indiana on the state dashboard.
  • The state also publishes county-level 7-day positivity rates for all tests given. Currently, SW Indiana rates as of 07/23 are: Gibson 12.3%, Posey 15.5%, Vanderburgh 9.1%, Warrick 11.5%, and Spencer 11.8%. You can find the county-level information by choosing the “Positivity” tab above the map of Indiana on the state dashboard.
  • The Vaccination Dashboard shows that through 07/29, 2,944,510 Hoosiers are fully vaccinated for COVID-19. This is 50.6% of Hoosiers over the age of 12 fully vaccinated and SW IN is above average with 52.6% of residents 12+ in Gibson, Posey, Vanderburgh & Warrick fully vaccinated. More than 80% of Hoosiers over the age of 65 are now fully vaccinated.
  • There are 500+  testing sites across the state. You are encouraged to get tested if you have any symptoms or have had contact with someone who has tested positive.
  • You can see any of the Governor’s Executive Orders here