CHICAGO (CBS) — Indiana reported its highest number of daily COVID-19 cases in over two weeks, the day before that state will quadruple the number of people allowed at gatherings and further relaxes other restrictions designed to slow the spread of the novel cornavirus.
Gov. Eric Holcomb and state health director Dr. Kris Box have warned Hoosiers to expect more cases as the state expands testing. The 672 cases reported on Wednesday is the highest since May 5, when there were 838 reported COVID-19 cases. Wednesday’s number is the fourth-highest daily count since the outbreak began in March. The state’s total number of cases is quickly approaching 30,000 and the death toll now stands at 1,744, which does not include 149 probable COVID-19 fatalities.READ MORE: Benet Academy Decides To Hire Amanda Kammes As Lacrosse Coach After Rescinding Job Offer Because She Is Married To A Woman
Holcomb officially signed an executive order on Thursday, clearing the way for the new rules to take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Friday.
As Holcomb and Box considered moving the the next reopening phase, they looked at several factors, including the hospitalization trends, the percentage of COVID-19 positive tests and the ability to have enough capacity to treat seriously ill patients. The state currently has 40 percent of ICU beds and 80 percent of ventilators available, the daily number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has been steadily declining all month and the rate of infection stands at around 15 percent. below the 20 percent federal guidelines.
Under Stage 3, which will start on Friday: Social gatherings of up to 100 people are allowed. Retail store capacity can increase to 75 percent, up from 50 percent. Gyms may open with restrictions, like limits on class sizes and a requirement that equipment be cleaned after each use. Community pools and campgrounds can open, recreational sports practices can begin, except for contact sports. Basketball and tennis courts and baseball fields can reopen. Movie theaters may reopen at 50 percent capacity. Restaurants and bars that serve food, which were reopened in Stage 2, will remain at 50 percent capacity.READ MORE: Boy, 15, Shot And Killed In West Chatham
Schools, sports venues and nightclubs will remain closed during Stage 3, which remains in effect until June 13. Holcomb noted that folks should write that date down in pencil because it is not a hard deadline and that testing and case data will drive any decision to move to Stage 4. “We are quadrupling the number of people who can get together,” he said. “It does give us some concern, just knowing we will be in this stage until June 14 with that number of people and that amount of activity.”
Today I announced that because health indicators remain positive, most of the state will advance to stage 3 of the #BackOnTrack Indiana plan on Friday, May 22.
— Governor Eric Holcomb (@GovHolcomb) May 21, 2020
Lake County will not be allowed to enter Stage 3 until June 1. It is the second-worst county for COVID-19 infections and deaths. The death toll jumped by 13 to a total of 162, according to the latest state health department figures. On Monday, the death toll was 140. The county has 3,037 total COVID-19 cases.MORE NEWS: Fire Damages Bronzeville Home Where Bo Diddley Lived As A Youngster
The Indianapolis area now reports 8,815 cases and 578 deaths.