CHICAGO (CBS) — Indiana is delaying its upcoming primary elections by nearly a month, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the May 5 primaries would be pushed back to June 2.

“The right of citizens to elect their leaders in a free and open election is one of the cornerstones of America. In order to balance that right with the safety of county employees, poll workers and voters, delaying Indiana’s primary election is the right move as we continue to do all we can to protect Hoosiers’ health,” Holcomb said in a news release.

All relevant deadlines involving the primary election also will be moved back 28 days.

Holcomb, Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer, and Democratic Party Chair John Zody also recommended the Indiana Election Commission suspend the state’s absentee by-mail rules, to allow all voters to cast their ballots by mail, and to allow county clerks to mail ballots to voters from now through 12 days before the new primary election date.

They also recommended that ballots with a May 5 date printed on them will still be valid, and that any family member be allowed to deliver a voter’s absentee ballot. Current rules allow only for someone in the voter’s household to take possession of their ballot.

“As Indiana’s Chief Election Officer, it is my top priority to protect our elections, but, above all else, it is my duty to protect the health and safety of Hoosiers,” said Secretary Lawson. “I believe the bi-partisan recommendations we have asked the Indiana Election Commission to take will allow us to provide all Hoosiers the opportunity to vote.

The Indiana Election Commission will hold a meeting on Wednesday, March 25, at 10 a.m. at the Indiana Statehouse to discuss the recommendations.

The announcement came shortly after Indiana health officials reported that the state had 23 new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. That raised the state’s total count to 79, including two patients who died.