Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb won’t back mandatory COVID-19 vaccine

AP FILE - In this Thursday, April 30, 2020 file photo, Gov. Eric Holcomb wears a mask in Kokomo, Ind.

The question of mandating such vaccines was asked during a debate among the Republican governor and his two election opponents as Indiana has continued to face steep increases in coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations stretching back to when Holcomb lifted nearly all of COVID-19 restrictions last month.

Posted: Oct 27, 2020 10:57 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Tuesday night that he would not support requiring residents to receive a COVID-19 vaccine once such immunizations become available.

The question of mandating such vaccines was asked during a debate among the Republican governor and his two election opponents as Indiana has continued to face steep increases in coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations stretching back to when Holcomb lifted nearly all of COVID-19 restrictions last month.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

“It shouldn’t be mandated but should be encouraged when it is safe,” Holcomb said.

Holcomb has faced criticism from some conservatives around the state that he has exceeded his authority with a statewide mask mandate and executive orders such as the stay-at-home order he issued in March aimed at slowing the coronavirus spread.

Holcomb’s stance comes even though Indiana law already requires 11 vaccines for public school students, including those for whooping cough, tetanus, measles and meningitis.

The governor said he wanted to make sure the vaccine can be quickly made available around the state.

“We want to make sure that we’re ready to rock and roll when it does come to Indiana, getting it out to the front line, getting it out to the most vulnerable, getting it out to our schools and long-term care centers,” Holcomb said.

Democratic challenger Myers, a physician and former state health commissioner, didn’t say whether he supported requiring a COVID-19 vaccine but said immunizations have been cost-effective life savers for many years. He said he hoped a coronavirus vaccine was available soon.

“We don’t know the full side-effect profiles yet and we don’t know all of those restrictions, but they are going to be coming,” Myers said.

Some opponents of Holcomb’s coronavirus actions have rallied around Libertarian Donald Rainwater, who has been firmly against the statewide mask mandate. He argued any vaccine will have side effects and health risks.

“It must be a citizen’s responsibility to determine what level of risk they’re willing to take, what level of risk they are willing to put their children under and government should not be involved in that decision,” Rainwater said.

State health officials on Tuesday added 51 coronavirus-related deaths to Indiana’s toll, which has reached 4,194, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus infections, since the state’s first death was reported in mid-March. Indiana’s number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has roughly doubled in the past month.

Tuesday’s night debate came a week after the three candidates sparred over Holcomb’s coronavirus orders and less than a week before Election Day, although at least 1.2 million votes have already cast with mail-in ballots or at early voting sites.

Holcomb has been able to keep up a front-runner campaign for a second four-year term with large advantages of name identification, fundraising and organization over Myers and Rainwater.

The hourlong debate was held with the three candidates and the moderator in separate areas of the WFYI-TV studio in Indianapolis because of COVID-19 precautions, according to organizers with the nonprofit Indiana Debate Commission.

Myers has argued that Holcomb shouldn’t have lifted nearly all of COVID-19 restrictions last month and should impose a statewide mask mandate that includes possible penalties for violators.

Rainwater, meanwhile, maintains the governor has exceeded his authority with executive orders that include the statewide mask mandate.

The candidates split during Tuesday’s debate on the question of changing state laws that prohibit any possession or use of marijuana.

Myers said he supported allowing medical marijuana and removing criminal penalties for possessing small amounts. Rainwater called for complete legalization without any state regulation of marijuana sales.

Holcomb maintained his previous stance against any marijuana law changes as long as it is classified by the federal government as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means it’s not accepted for medical use and has a high potential for abuse.

Holcomb said he didn’t believe there was enough medical research into the effects of marijuana use, even though states such as Illinois and Michigan have already legalized its recreational use and Ohio permits medical marijuana.

“I’m very suspect about looking to legalize controlled substances for revenue reasons,” Holcomb said. “I don’t do things just because 34 other states have looked the other way and said we don’t need federal approval, we’ll break the law, in essence.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1011197

Reported Deaths: 16524
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1359292129
Lake666181167
Allen58254802
Hamilton46498467
St. Joseph44559617
Elkhart36044510
Vanderburgh32333481
Tippecanoe28037260
Johnson25196446
Hendricks23960360
Porter22985367
Madison18820410
Clark18609253
Vigo17530303
Monroe15319200
LaPorte15230252
Delaware15127264
Howard14801290
Kosciusko12410149
Hancock11773176
Bartholomew11695180
Warrick11305189
Floyd11138215
Wayne11023253
Grant10131220
Morgan9506177
Boone8965116
Dubois8281131
Henry8252153
Dearborn823493
Noble8064106
Marshall7981135
Cass7556123
Lawrence7479172
Shelby7216119
Jackson700990
Gibson6614115
Harrison651892
Huntington6447100
Knox6427106
DeKalb6363100
Montgomery6293112
Miami595298
Putnam584179
Clinton579271
Whitley568455
Steuben566876
Wabash5363104
Jasper536180
Jefferson513297
Ripley501987
Adams483777
Daviess4684115
Scott439875
Greene427296
Clay426960
Wells426088
White420964
Decatur4177104
Fayette407387
Jennings390262
Posey377544
LaGrange361778
Washington360451
Randolph3476100
Spencer340743
Fountain336160
Sullivan330852
Starke319171
Owen315571
Fulton313468
Orange295064
Jay285546
Franklin266443
Perry265752
Rush263832
Carroll262434
Vermillion259854
Parke232029
Pike229643
Tipton229059
Blackford195042
Pulaski184657
Crawford160125
Newton159848
Benton151217
Brown147047
Martin139319
Switzerland135311
Warren121416
Union107216
Ohio84613
Unassigned0544

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1524169

Reported Deaths: 23955
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1646591696
Cuyahoga1468932459
Hamilton1056051431
Montgomery742551279
Summit620221111
Lucas56539917
Butler51696718
Stark468601064
Lorain35783585
Warren32903377
Mahoning30927693
Clermont28271330
Lake27179448
Delaware24263164
Licking24027294
Trumbull22993561
Fairfield22438247
Greene22414326
Medina22149313
Clark19920354
Richland18643292
Portage18073252
Wood17505224
Allen16054279
Miami15627306
Muskingum14890185
Columbiana14153274
Wayne13852271
Tuscarawas12777311
Marion12016180
Scioto11497162
Pickaway11386142
Erie10951184
Ross10614203
Ashtabula9809204
Lawrence9783153
Hancock9741155
Belmont9333209
Geauga9008157
Jefferson8600199
Huron8427143
Union822259
Washington8114144
Sandusky7875151
Athens779579
Knox7766144
Darke7695158
Seneca7405145
Ashland6993130
Auglaize681799
Shelby6540115
Brown640091
Crawford6292130
Defiance6241105
Mercer617893
Fulton605196
Highland602899
Guernsey596371
Madison595678
Logan594596
Clinton585193
Preble5730125
Putnam5354110
Williams530888
Perry519863
Champaign514273
Jackson512473
Ottawa490586
Coshocton488383
Morrow460558
Pike435067
Fayette430363
Hardin420780
Gallia419367
Adams417995
Van Wert374082
Henry366972
Holmes3653125
Hocking357582
Wyandot325262
Carroll304365
Paulding280747
Meigs267251
Monroe216254
Noble201247
Morgan194333
Harrison182646
Vinton167225
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 44°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
46° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 43°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 44°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 44°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
47° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 42°
Feels Like: 43°
After a soggy couple of days, the sunshine returns Tuesday and highs top out in the middle 50s.
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