While coronavirus cases continue to rise in Indiana and the number of Hoosiers hospitalized with the coronavirus is at its highest point since mid-May, Gov. Eric Holcomb defended his decision to remain in Stage 5 in a weekly briefing on Wednesday. 

Indiana has seen an increase in its average positivity rate, which sits at 5.3% as of Oct. 7, the most recent date measured in the state’s COVID-19 dashboard. The state has recorded more than 1,000 new cases each of the past seven days, and there are 1,357 Hoosiers hospitalized with the coronavirus, the highest number since May 15. 

The governor extended the statewide mask mandate until at least Nov. 14 Holcomb said it is not large events that are causing an increase in cases, but rather the irresponsibility of those not wearing masks or social distancing. 

“If you’re hosting an event and doing it responsibly — and we have countless people who have adjusted the way that they do business or hold events or gather — they are proving it can be done responsibly,” Holcomb said. “That is why this ultimately comes down to our personal actions or inactions.” 

He said the purpose of the initial shutdown in March was to allow the government, along with businesses, to learn more about the virus and  ensure they were all operating as one unit. 

The actions of those who are treating the virus as if it is no longer a problem is causing an unparalleled increase in positive cases in Indiana, Holcomb said. Returning to a complete shutdown or even imposing heavier restrictions would not solve the problem, according to the governor. 

Among those who have tested positive for the coronavirus is the commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, Dr. Kristina Box. 

Box shared the news of her diagnosis during the press conference. She tested positive along with her daughter and 23-month old grandson, but unlike her two family members, she is currently asymptomatic. 

Box said her grandson came home from daycare with what appeared to be a cold. But when two workers at the daycare tested positive, Box and her family went to be tested. 

Following Box’s positive results, Gov. Holcomb will be tested Wednesday afternoon, along with members of the state health department. The results are expected back by midday Thursday.

The state has been working with local governments to complete contact tracing. Dr. Lindsay Weaver, the chief medical officer for ISDH emphasized the importance of participating in contact tracing, and encouraged Hoosiers to continue to practice safe behaviors so things might improve more quickly. 

In Tippecanoe County, the seven-day average positivity rate is much lower, at 2.9% from the week of Oct. 1 to Oct. 7. The county reported 40 new cases yesterday. Local hospitals have 35.2% of intensive care unit beds and 73.3% of ventilators available.

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