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Holcomb keeps Indiana in stage 4.5 of reopening for another month, urges vigilance
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Holcomb keeps Indiana in stage 4.5 of reopening for another month, urges vigilance

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Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Wednesday the state will remain in stage 4.5 of its reopening plan until Aug. 27.

As COVID-19 cases are on the rise again in parts of Indiana, Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday announced plans to keep the state in its current phase for reopening for another four weeks while urging Hoosiers to wear masks to curb the spread.

Holcomb did say local governments with hot spots can impose more stringent guidelines if they so choose.

Gary, Michigan City and Whiting, for example, have closed their beaches, with many city leaders worried of the rise in cases among young adults exhibiting risky social behavior.

“What I’m reminded of on a daily basis is this virus will take what we give it,” Holcomb said. “So it’s incumbent upon us to be on our best behavior.”

Over the last week, the state health department has reported 6,400 new cases — which accounts for 10% of all cases identified since the beginning of March, according to Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner.

She said 630 new cases were reported in Indiana on Wednesday. In total, 64,299 Hoosiers have tested positive for the virus.

Under Stage 4.5, restaurant dining rooms can open at 75% capacity, and places like zoos, museums, movie theaters and bowling alleys can open at half-capacity. Bars, nightclubs, and tourism sites can operate at 50% capacity.

Rather than imposing more restrictions, Holcomb said he plans to keep Indiana in Stage 4.5 until Aug. 27.  

He also announced the state’s moratorium on rental evictions will be extended through Aug. 14.

Holcomb and Box declined to offer specific statewide benchmarks at Wednesday’s press conference for school districts, but said they have been actively engaged with districts about how to best make local decisions in reopening next month.

Box said assigned bus and classroom seating is key, along with social distancing and mask-wearing for children third grade and up.

“You know, I think people want a specific ‘Well, there has to be this percent positivity or this percent number of cases, or we won’t open, or we have to close,' but the reality is this varies a lot depending on which county you’re in,” Box said.

Gallery: Here's where masks, face coverings are required in the Region

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North Lake County Reporter

Lauren covers North Lake County government, breaking news, crime and environmental issues for The Times. She holds a master’s degree in Public Affairs Reporting from UIS. Contact her at lauren.cross@nwi.com or 219-933-3206.

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