Indiana candidates for governor discuss COVID-19 response

Politics

INDIANAPOLIS— The three candidates running for governor of Indiana do not agree on how the state should respond to COVID-19.

Based on their responses, this means voters will have to choose whether they think the governor should do more, less or continue the same approach when it comes to the virus.

Each candidate for governor was asked what they would have done differently in response to the pandemic.

“I don’t say this arrogantly,” said incumbent Republican Governor Eric Holcomb. “But not too much.”

He later added, “Our economy is open. So, it’s really balancing the lives and the livelihoods.”

Libertarian candidate Donald Rainwater disagrees. He doesn’t think Holcomb balanced the two. He believes the state overstepped.

“I would not have issued a stay at home order, I would not have issued business closures, I would not close churches,” explained Rainwater. “I feel that is a violation of the First Amendment, plain and simple.”

On the other side of the spectrum, democrat Dr. Woody Myers, a former Indiana State Health Commissioner said he would have closed sooner and longer.

“It was a mistake to move to stage 5 we should have considered moving in the other direction,” said Myers.

Dr. Myers said if elected, his measures of success would be if the COVID-19 cases were going down every day consistently and if the positivity rate continued at 1-2 percent. He also wouldn’t leave as many COVID-19 decisions to local government.

“We’re giving far too much control to people who aren’t public health experts and finally, Indiana doesn’t have a mask mandate. We know that masks are valuable,” said Myers. “What we have is a mask suggestion, we need a mask mandate.”

Governor Holcomb said he considers his mask mandate a message to local governments that sets a tone for the state.

“It requires local buy in and local enforcement,” explained Holcomb. “If you want to hire four or five million people to go police the streets of all of Indiana, we didn’t think that was constructive or even remotely realistic.”

Myers wouldn’t say what his penalty would be for violating a state mask mandate.

“We’re not trying to put folks in jail, what we are trying to do is give the tools that are required to law enforcement and to others to help people understand this is important,” said Myers.

Reporter Kayla Sullivan asked Holcomb if he regrets not putting out the mask executive order sooner.

“It wouldn’t have hurt, it would have probably helped change the culture around masks,” said Holcomb.

Rainwater said if he’s governor, the decision to wear a mask would be left up to hoosiers and he would get money back into their pockets to decide how to protect themselves from the virus.

“I think it’s important for government to stay in its lane and provide the information and the data necessary to the citizens in the state of Indiana and determine for themselves, what do I need to do to protect my health and my family’s health?” said Rainwater.

“The economy is vitally important,” said Myers. “But what leadership means is you have to choose, you have to make a decision, and right now the decision ought to be to protect the public so that when the surge comes this fall, we are in a much better position to deal with it.”

Holcomb said Indiana is prepared for a potential fall surge citing the fact there are still federal CARES Act dollars left if they need it in the fourth quarter for more testing, tracing or anything else COVID-19 related.

“Indiana was thriving before COVID, we’re surviving, and in many ways we’re back to thriving,” said Holcomb. “So, I don’t want to lose sight of there’s a lot of good news out there.”

In the next two weeks, we’ll be highlighting each candidates’ plan for education and justice reform efforts.

If you would like to learn more about each candidate from their website, a list can be found below.

Eric Holcomb (R)

Woody Myers (D)

Donald Rainwater (L)

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