INDIANAPOLIS – With indicators showing an increased spread of COVID-19 in the state, Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday defended moving Indiana forward in its recovery.
Two weeks ago, the governor lauded an effective reproduction rate for Indiana of 0.94, among the best in the nation.
But as of Wednesday, that number had risen to 1.14 and is tied for fourth worst nationally.
The seven-day average of daily deaths is also rising, and the number of Hoosiers hospitalized with the novel coronavirus is the highest since late August.
All of those statistics do not yet reflect the movement of the state to Stage 5 on Friday, which lifted most restrictions.
“It doesn't mean that we go back to 4.5 or 4. It means we need to hunker down in the areas where we see spread and that's what we are doing,” Holcomb said.
Southwestern Indiana is seeing the biggest outbreaks.
State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said it's important to note that most universities and colleges, as well as K-12 schools, are open now.
“Those are big gains and big moves for us. It is a delicate balancing act,” she said.
Holcomb followed up by saying that balance is between lives and livelihoods.
The governor also noted there is a lot of blue in the county-by-county map of the state – the lowest level of spread. Box said simple things like wearing your mask, washing your hands, social distancing, getting tested and isolating when sick will keep Indiana moving forward.
Wednesday's new statewide numbers added 965 new cases and 20 new deaths.
Locally, five more Allen County residents died and 51 tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 6,427 cases and 206 deaths Wednesday. Ten other area counties saw a collective increase of 74 cases and no new deaths.
New updates to the dashboard for COVID-19 in K-12 schools showed 253 new student cases statewide for a total of 1,676. There were also 52 new teacher cases for a total of 335 and 71 new staff cases for a total of 343.
On an unrelated topic, a reporter asked Holcomb his reaction to watching the presidential debate Tuesday night.
“I did,” he said stoically.
Holcomb followed up by condemning white supremacists – something President Donald Trump didn't do.
“I condemn white supremacy in no uncertain terms. I could not be more blunt,” he said. “The only thing supreme about white supremacy is their stupidity and I won't tolerate it here.”