During the opening of his weekly press conference Wednesday afternoon (August 26th, 2020), Governor Eric Holcomb announced the statewide mask mandate would be extended another 30 days.

This means Hoosiers will be required to continue wearing masks in public spaces where social distancing guidelines cannot be met until September 25th. The Governor cited the leveling of the state's positivity rate as the reason for the decision. Since the highest recorded rate of 7.6% on July 27th, the state has seen a small decline to 6.6% as of August 19th, which the Governor noted was good news, and the trend state officials want to see, however he also noted they'd like to see that number continue to trend further down. While he did not specify a specific number, he did say his administration would like to see the number drop to below 5% as it was back in June. He also did not specifically state he will lift the mandate if or when that happens.

In addition to the mandate extension, Holcomb also announced the state would remain in Phase 4.5 of reopening another 30 days as it has since just before the July 4th holiday. This means the following restrictions are still in place:

  • Restaurant dining rooms will remain at 75% capacity.
  • Bars, clubs, and entertainment venues will remain at 50% capacity.
  • Government offices, manufacturing/Industrial business, office spaces, retail outlets, gyms, and personal services will continue to be allowed to operate at 100% capacity with social distancing guidelines and other safety measures, including proper sanitation procedures, in place.

As she does during each week's update, Dr. Kristina Box, Commissioner of the state's Department of Health, provided an update on the number of positive cases, hospitalizations, deaths, and tests that have occurred over the last week. She also announced an update to the state's coronavirus website that will see each county color coded based on data from the following "metrics:"

  • Number of new cases per week based on 100,000 residents.
  • Percent positivity as determined by the number of positive testes divided by the total number of tests administered.
  • The change in percent positivity from the previous week.

The data obtained from each metric will be given a score between 0 and 3. The average of the three scores will determine if a county is colored blue, yellow, orange or red, with blue meaning the data shows minimal community spread, yellow meaning moderate spread, orange meaning moderate to high, and red meaning high. The goal is for the data, and the resulting color, to help provide additional guidance to counties decision making when it comes to in-person school attendance, as well as extra-curricular activities. Dr. Box made it clear a county's score will not trigger a required action by the state, meaning the Governor's administration is leaving the decision to the individual counties. You can see Dr. Box's full explanation of what each color means, and the state's recommendation for each color in the video below beginning around the 9:50 mark.

Given the up-and-down nature of the virus' spread, both Dr. Box and Governor Holcomb stated that a county which is in red one day, could find themselves blue if residents within that county follow the recommended guidelines of social distancing, proper hygiene, and mask wearing. On the flip side, a county in blue could easily find themselves moving into orange or red in a short amount of time if residents don't follow the recommended guidelines.

You can watch this week's update in its entirety below.

[Source: Governor Eric Holcomb on Facebook]

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