Gov. Eric Holcomb is extending his declaration of a statewide public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic through at least the end of July.
The Republican issued an executive order Wednesday that found, despite the state's ongoing mitigation and vaccination efforts, the coronavirus "remains a threat to the health, safety and welfare of all residents of Indiana," and further action is needed "to continue to address, control and reduce the threat posed by COVID-19."
This is the 16th renewal of Indiana's COVID-19 emergency since Holcomb signed his initial declaration March 6, 2020, after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Hoosier State.
Since that day, more than 750,000 Hoosiers have tested positive for the virus and nearly 14,000 Indiana residents have died from COVID-19, according to the Indiana Department of Health.
Holcomb said renewing his public health emergency declaration through July 31 ensures Indiana can continue responding effectively to the hundreds of COVID-19 cases still being diagnosed daily, along with the continuing hospitalizations and deaths caused by the coronavirus.
The governor also singled out Indiana's comparatively low vaccination rate as a reason to extend the state of emergency. He said the 47.6% of eligible Hoosiers who were fully vaccinated as of Wednesday ranks 38th among the 50 states.
Holcomb noted that 98.5% of new COVID-19 cases are unvaccinated individuals — leaving Indiana in a potentially precious position as coronavirus variants continue to spread across the country.
Hoosiers age 12 and up can get the COVID-19 vaccine for free at most hospitals, health clinics and retail pharmacies in the state without an appointment.
A full list of vaccine sites is available online at ourshot.in.gov, or by calling 211.
The governor's extension of his emergency order also allowed him to issue a second executive order permitting retired, out-of-state, and student health care workers to continue practicing in Indiana until Sept. 30.