INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana's governor announced Wednesday that some coronavirus restrictions are being reinstated after several weeks of sharp increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths.
The new steps being imposed by Gov. Eric Holcomb will limit crowd sizes in those counties at the higher-risk levels of coronavirus spread and would cover 87 of the state's 92 counties as of Wednesday's update from the state health department.
A new executive order starting this weekend will limit crowd sizes to 25 people in the highest-risk red counties and 50 people in the next-riskiest orange counties. The new order will also limit capacity at K-12 sports and extracurricular events.
Holcomb said he was also extending the statewide mask mandate for another month.
Holcomb had decided in late September to lift nearly all of Indiana's business and crowd size restrictions. Since then, Indiana hospitals have seen a 200% increase in COVID-19 patients and the seven-day rolling average deaths has gone jumped from 10 a day to 38, just short of the state's peak in late April.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP's earlier story follows below.
Almost every Indiana county now faces higher-risk levels of coronavirus spread as the state's sharp increases in COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths has continued since nearly all statewide restrictions were lifted seven weeks ago.
The Indiana Department of Health listed 87 of the state's 92 counties in the highest two of its four risk levels for in its weekly tracking map update released Wednesday, compared to 53 counties that were at those levels last week. The agency assigned the most dangerous red rating to nine counties, all in rural areas of the state. None received the lowest-level blue rating.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who was scheduled to take part in a Wednesday afternoon briefing on the state's coronavirus response, decided in late September to lift nearly all of Indiana's business and crowd size restrictions while extending a statewide mask order. The current mask order expires Saturday.
State health officials on Wednesday added 31 more deaths to Indiana's pandemic toll, raising it to 4,762 fatalities, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus infections since March.
Indiana hospitals were treating 2,544 COVID-19 patients as of Tuesday — a 200% increase since Holcomb announced on Sept. 23 his decision to leave coronavirus-related restrictions to local officials. In that time, Indiana's seven-day rolling average COVID-19 deaths has jumped from 10 a day to 38, just short of the state's peak in late April.
Holcomb said a day after winning reelection last week that he wasn't any changes to COVID-19 policy, including no statewide closure of schools.