Governor Holcomb urges churches to stay closed amid coronavirus pandemic

Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana Health Commissioner, answers questions about COVID-19 infections and its impact on the state as Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb listens during a briefing at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Tuesday, March 24, 2020. via AP.

According to Governor Eric Holcomb’s executive order 20-18, all public and private gatherings should follow the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which restricts gatherings to ten or fewer people.

Posted: Apr 9, 2020 4:55 PM
Updated: Apr 9, 2020 6:41 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Eric Holcomb on Thursday urged Indiana churches, synagogues and other faith venues to remain closed and adhere to social distancing guidelines during services and observances for Passover and Easter to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“Get the word and get home,” Holcomb told reporters during a daily update on Indiana’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “This is about worship and we can follow the rules.”

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As of Thursday, Indiana had 6,351 confirmed cases following corrections to the previous day’s total and 245 deaths due to complications from the COVID-19 virus.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.

For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

RELATED: FAQ: What you need to know about Indiana's new Stay-At-Home Order

Holcomb has issued a stay-at-home order for all but essential workers.

He also has said Indiana residents should follow social distancing guidelines, something that’s difficult during typical religious services.

Services should be held online, and any staff or volunteers present who are not speaking should wear masks over their noses and mouths, according to guidance from Holcomb’s office.

For churches holding drive-up services, people should remain in their vehicles and have no physical interaction with others.

“Communion should be brought from your own homes,” said Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana health commissioner. “Please don’t pass things out.”

The week leading up to Easter is considered the holiest time of year for many Christians, leaving churches to wrestle with how to hold services amid the coronavirus outbreak.

In some cases, it has set up showdowns with local governments over restrictions that forbid large gatherings.

Many churches are offering parishioners livestreaming options so they can observe Good Friday and Easter on TVs, smartphones and computers. Others are holding services at drive-in movie theaters.

BIG JUMP

The reported deaths of 42 more Indiana residents from COVID-19 from Wednesday to Thursday marks the largest single-day jump in the state’s death toll during the pandemic. Indiana State Department of Health reported 34 deaths Tuesday.

The state agency, which has said that the additional deaths it reports each day occurred over multiple days, said an additional 430 residents had confirmed cases of COVID-19 — the respiratory disease caused by the virus.

Marion County, the home of Indianapolis, again had the most new cases, at 127, raising its total to 2,415 — or about 38% of Indiana’s total.

Northwestern Indiana’s Lake County had 64 new cases, and nine other Indiana counties had 10 or more new confirmed cases.

The department said 32,133 Indiana residents had been tested for the coronavirus as of late Wednesday.

To continue safely serving their communities, faith institutions are directed as follows:

  • Church buildings and other physical locations for worship should be closed.
  • Livestream or other virtual services are best.
    • The minimum number of necessary personnel should be used at all times for any services.
    • Staff and volunteers who are not speaking should wear masks.
  • Drive-in services may be conducted only under these conditions:
    • Attendees must be inside vehicles at all times.
    • Attendees should not interact physically with clergy, staff or participants in other vehicles.
    • Vehicles should contain only members of a single household. Do not bring your neighbors or others outside of your household.
    • Cars must be spaced the equivalent of every other parking spot or approximately 9 feet apart.
    • No one may exit a vehicle at any time.
    • Portable bathrooms are not allowed on the premises and no church facilities may be used by attendees.
    • It is preferred that no communion be distributed.
      • In instances when communion is distributed, only prepackaged communion may be used and must be prepared and distributed in a manner that meets food safety standards.
    • The following individuals who are vulnerable and at higher risk for illness should not attend:
      • Persons who are 65 years and older.
      • Those who have severe underlying medical conditions, like heart or lung disease or diabetes.
      • Individuals who are sick.

The CDC has provided guidance for the faith community on their website.

You can view the executive order below.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 75862

Reported Deaths: 3069
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16088730
Lake7688278
Elkhart492685
Allen4002163
St. Joseph357883
Hamilton2829104
Vanderburgh202213
Hendricks1927108
Cass18029
Johnson1789119
Porter135539
Clark128749
Tippecanoe123811
Madison100665
LaPorte93130
Howard91365
Kosciusko86812
Bartholomew81747
Floyd80948
Marshall79323
Monroe76631
Delaware74552
Dubois70812
Vigo69911
Noble68829
Boone68746
Hancock68339
Jackson5965
Warrick58830
Shelby56527
LaGrange56310
Grant52930
Dearborn51228
Morgan49334
Clinton4444
Henry40620
Wayne38510
White37611
Montgomery35921
Lawrence35227
Harrison34823
Decatur34132
Putnam3128
Daviess27720
Miami2772
Scott27210
Jasper2552
Greene25434
Franklin24615
DeKalb2384
Gibson2314
Jennings22712
Steuben2133
Ripley2138
Carroll1962
Fayette1947
Perry18713
Posey1790
Starke1787
Wells1742
Orange17424
Fulton1722
Wabash1703
Jefferson1672
Knox1610
Whitley1556
Tipton14312
Washington1421
Sullivan1381
Spencer1373
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1244
Newton12010
Adams1092
Owen991
Jay920
Rush854
Pulaski811
Fountain742
Brown741
Blackford652
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike590
Vermillion580
Switzerland530
Parke511
Martin480
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 102826

Reported Deaths: 3708
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18697529
Cuyahoga13734505
Hamilton9766257
Lucas5448326
Montgomery443896
Summit3614223
Butler297663
Marion293545
Mahoning2595255
Pickaway239142
Stark1884140
Warren182139
Lorain181377
Columbiana167160
Trumbull1549108
Fairfield141632
Delaware134419
Licking131951
Clark117815
Lake113141
Wood106858
Clermont95311
Medina94535
Miami85839
Tuscarawas79314
Portage77163
Allen76946
Greene71812
Mercer63113
Belmont62326
Richland61412
Erie59728
Ashtabula57646
Geauga55944
Wayne54558
Ross4944
Darke40629
Huron4045
Madison40110
Ottawa39626
Sandusky39017
Hancock3893
Athens3602
Holmes3286
Lawrence3000
Auglaize2636
Union2601
Muskingum2431
Scioto2421
Jefferson2373
Seneca2283
Knox2127
Putnam21117
Shelby2104
Washington20922
Preble2072
Coshocton1967
Champaign1812
Morrow1762
Crawford1755
Hardin17012
Clinton1696
Highland1661
Logan1602
Ashland1543
Fulton1531
Wyandot1509
Defiance1504
Brown1462
Perry1403
Williams1363
Henry1222
Fayette1210
Guernsey1197
Hocking1189
Carroll1135
Monroe9418
Pike790
Jackson760
Van Wert732
Paulding700
Gallia701
Adams612
Meigs540
Vinton322
Morgan300
Harrison261
Noble160
Unassigned00
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