Holcomb: Indiana looking to reopen economy in early May

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — During Thursday’s update on the coronavirus pandemic, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said officials are thinking about trying to reopen Indiana’s economy in early May.

When asked when he thought the state would be ready to reopen, Holcomb said “we are thinking early May.”

He said officials are “looking at the numbers … we want to see these numbers hold.”

Holcomb opened the briefing with some comments on fallen IMPD officer Bre Leath, whose funeral was held Thursday. The governor attended the service and called Leath “a wonderful servant” who “wore 3 uniforms”: the National Guard, Department of Correction and IMPD.

He said Leath had a profound impact on her coworkers and inmates, and asked Hoosiers to keep her family in their thoughts and prayers. 

Rob Carter, Commissioner of the Department of Correction shared footage from a documentary of Leath working at DOC. Carter announced the renaming of the DOC nursery in her memory: “Officer Breann Leath Memorial Maternal & Child Health Unit.”

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box reviewed the new statistics from the Indiana State Department of Health. Indiana now has 477 total deaths from COVID-19. There are 9,542 positive cases statewide and more than 51,000 people have been tested.

Box added that 44.6% of ICU beds are available, and 75.6% of the state’s ventilators are available.

Officials said there is an increasing number of cases in prisons including 80 offenders at Westville testing positive.

Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne said there are extreme volumes of unemployment claims being filed in Indiana. He said there are over 118,000 claims successfully filed, which is lower than the previous week, but one of the highest weekly totals in Indiana history.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson said her office will be making further recommendations regarding the Indiana primary election (moved to June2), with a virtual meeting to be held tomorrow.

Lawson said May 21 is the deadline to request absentee voting, and early voting will take place May 26 and June 1.

Lawson acknowledged that in-person voting will take place June 2 and that all 92 counties will have personal protective equipment. She said the state is working to educate poll workers on best sanitation practices. 

On Wednesday, Gov. Holcomb said the Indiana economy would reopen gradually once officials are confident the coronavirus pandemic is beginning to wane.

Holcomb said his biggest concern was making sure employees were safe and had a high level of confidence in the workplace.

Earlier this week, Holcomb said he would be reviewing the state’s stay-at-home order and expects to provide an update on Friday. It’s currently in effect through April 20 at 11:59 p.m.

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