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INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Holcomb announced Wednesday that Indiana will not be moving to Stage 5 of its “Back on Track” plan on July 4th. Instead, a “Stage 4.5” will hold for the next two weeks, according to a new Executive Order.

Holcomb began Wednesday’s briefing by acknowledging an “uptick” in the state’s COVID-19 cases.

Stage 5, the last stage of the reopening plan, was previously projected to go into effect on the Fourth of July. Holcomb declared the state will move to a “cautious Stage 4.5.”

He said gatherings of up to 250 will remain in place for at least 2 weeks. Conventions may resume as long as they follow previous guidance. Holcomb said the state will monitor this step for the next two weeks.

Indiana stage 4.5 by FOX59 on Scribd

“This gives us a little more time to manage our way through this,” said Holcomb.

The governor added that states around the country including neighbors are seeing surges, and added that the nationwide cases are at a peak level.

“A date doesn’t drive us, but the data does,” Holcomb said. “This virus is on the prowl. That spread is not slowing down. Even states that have reopened recently, they are going back.”

Holcomb and his team also announced a new #MaskUpHoosiers campaign to encourage Hooisers to wear masks in public spaces. He recommends mask-wearing “in the strongest terms possible” and said, “it’s about getting through this in the safest way.”

“I believe in Hoosiers doing the right thing. That’s one aspect where we have acted appropriately. We have a long history … of working with locals in a partnership,” said Holcomb.

Dr. Box noted that mandating masks can sometimes result in more people not wearing them, solely because there is a mandate.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box gave the state’s Wednesday report of coronavirus numbers: 371 new positive cases, bringing the state’s total to 45,952. An additional 8 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 were announced Wednesday, bringing Indiana’s total to 2,456.

Dr. Daniel Rusyniak announced the creation of a long term care facility specific COVID-19 data dashboard. He said it will take some time to build, but will be searchable by users. 

Rusyniak said information will include when cases occurred, how many residents/staff died, how many recovered and demographics of people involved. Data will be available starting in mid-July, and the dashboard will go live not long afterward.

Some areas of the state, such as Marion County, have been behind the state schedule due to unique challenges posed by a larger population. We expect to hear from Marion County officials Thursday on how they plan to proceed.

On Tuesday, Holcomb signed an executive order to extend the prohibition on evictions, foreclosures and the disconnection of utility services through July 31.

Under Executive Order 20-33, utilities regulated by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission as well as non-regulated utility companies are prohibited from disconnecting services through August 14. The governor’s office encourages customers and utility companies to establish payment plans now to avoid later discontinuations of service.