Gov. Holcomb to loosen Indiana's COVID-19 restrictions next month, mask mandate will become 'advisory'

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a Tuesday evening speech that the state’s steep declines in coronavirus hospitalization and deaths rates along with the growing number of people fully vaccinated justify the steps starting April 6.

Posted: Mar 23, 2021 5:55 PM
Updated: Mar 24, 2021 9:23 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor announced Tuesday he would lift the statewide mask mandate and remaining COVID-19 business restrictions in two weeks.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a speech from his Statehouse office that the state’s steep declines in coronavirus hospitalization and deaths rates along with the growing number of people fully vaccinated justify the steps starting April 6.

Holcomb said he hoped the state was seeing the “tail end of this pandemic” that has killed nearly 13,000 people in the state over the past year.

The date for ending the mask mandate was picked to coincide with the ending of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament now being held in Indianapolis and to allow more time for people with at-risk health conditions to get vaccine shots, Holcomb said.

Local officials would still have the authority to impose tougher restrictions in response to COVID-19 cases in their communities and face mask use would still be required in K-12 schools for rest of this school year, Holcomb said.

He urged residents to continue wearing masks in public and that bars and restaurants continue to space out their tables.

While Holcomb has faced public pressure and from conservative state lawmakers to ease restrictions, especially after governors in Texas and other states have done so recently, he didn’t make any bold victory announcements and asked residents to respect rules adopted by businesses and others.

“Whether that is a bank branch lobby, on the factory floor or a county courthouse or city hall, they retain the authority to make decisions about COVID restrictions for their operations and should be afforded the respect, compliance and understanding of all who visit them,” Holcomb said. “When I visit my favorite restaurants or conduct a public event, I will continue to appropriately wear a mask, it’s the right thing to do.”

But some health experts worry it is premature to lift the statewide restrictions, pointing to the steep increase in hospitalizations and deaths the state saw beginning in September after the governor lifted most business restrictions before reinstating crowd limits several weeks later.

“We put a lot of restrictions in place last year, there was some initial hesitation by some parts of the population to comply with some of those orders,” said Brian Dixon, an epidemiologist at Indiana University’s Fairbanks School of Public Health. “And then what we saw in the fall is that rates went up, they skyrocketed because people were not following precautions.”

Holcomb said the state would open up vaccine eligibility for all residents 16 and older starting March 31 and that additional mass vaccination clinics were being planned for April.

The governor’s public health emergency for the state will remain in place through April, which Holcomb said would allow state officials to take quick action if needed and gives the state access to hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 704632

Reported Deaths: 13211
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion961411718
Lake51322943
Allen39040670
Hamilton34368405
St. Joseph33865539
Elkhart27197431
Vanderburgh22050394
Tippecanoe21725212
Johnson17475374
Porter17240298
Hendricks16754310
Clark12663190
Madison12321337
Vigo12172244
Monroe11417166
LaPorte10841204
Delaware10325184
Howard9629211
Kosciusko9098113
Hancock7954139
Bartholomew7867155
Warrick7680155
Floyd7543176
Wayne6887198
Grant6773171
Boone6524100
Morgan6379138
Dubois6074117
Marshall5770108
Dearborn568576
Cass5678102
Henry5569100
Noble539383
Jackson492869
Shelby478295
Lawrence4336118
Gibson427789
Harrison427570
Clinton417753
Montgomery417286
DeKalb407984
Huntington377480
Whitley376339
Miami371765
Knox365789
Steuben363357
Putnam352360
Jasper347546
Wabash347377
Adams337852
Ripley333468
Jefferson312180
White307854
Daviess289399
Wells285581
Decatur278592
Fayette277162
Greene270485
Posey268433
Scott260853
Clay253044
LaGrange252170
Randolph234680
Washington230631
Spencer227531
Jennings224747
Fountain208245
Sullivan207542
Starke202652
Owen191956
Fulton190939
Jay185829
Carroll185620
Perry179736
Orange176753
Rush170624
Vermillion165943
Franklin165635
Tipton160943
Parke144316
Blackford133331
Pike130234
Pulaski113245
Newton103034
Brown99740
Crawford97514
Benton96413
Martin82515
Warren79315
Switzerland7698
Union69710
Ohio55711
Unassigned0408

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1050112

Reported Deaths: 18991
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1219281356
Cuyahoga1067232069
Hamilton780741168
Montgomery49976996
Summit45252909
Lucas39984765
Butler37678570
Stark31385895
Lorain24111473
Warren23864293
Mahoning20869583
Lake19963362
Clermont19423229
Delaware18002130
Licking16109207
Fairfield15676197
Trumbull15553460
Medina14839259
Greene14643236
Clark13602293
Wood12733185
Portage12353196
Allen11312229
Richland11025198
Miami10525214
Muskingum8702127
Wayne8556209
Columbiana8535226
Pickaway8429121
Tuscarawas8370240
Marion8365135
Erie7554154
Hancock6694123
Ross6693146
Geauga6532146
Ashtabula6470165
Scioto6286101
Belmont5610158
Union557447
Lawrence5465102
Jefferson5303147
Huron5298114
Darke5268121
Sandusky5171120
Seneca5108120
Washington5073107
Athens500656
Auglaize475184
Mercer471184
Shelby455890
Knox4380108
Madison421559
Putnam420799
Ashland412688
Fulton409167
Defiance400896
Crawford3866101
Brown386055
Logan372876
Preble369898
Clinton360560
Ottawa356578
Highland346359
Williams324974
Champaign319257
Jackson307951
Guernsey306149
Perry289649
Fayette277348
Morrow274639
Hardin264164
Henry263566
Coshocton258857
Holmes253099
Van Wert238862
Gallia233346
Pike232931
Adams227852
Wyandot226953
Hocking208959
Carroll189147
Paulding168638
Meigs141538
Noble132837
Monroe128841
Morgan106623
Harrison105236
Vinton81414
Unassigned02
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