Questions and answers surrounding the subtle reopening of Indiana

Governor Eric Holcomb

Governor Holcomb says when Indiana starts reopening businesses is the easy question. The hard question is how.

Holcomb has extended a statewide stay-home order twice since he first issued it a month ago as the coronavirus pandemic came into focus in Indiana. The latest version is set to expire next Friday. Holcomb says he expects to lift restrictions on nonessential businesses sometime next month — he says the data on coronavirus’s spread will make the timing fairly clear. But he says businesses need to start thinking now about how they might have to change operations, from cleaning more often to limiting the number of customers at one time — or the number of employees in the breakroom.

Holcomb says the numbers on the spread of the virus will make it clear when it’s safe to lift restrictions. He says he won’t act prematurely, and he’s repeating that the eventual emergence from lockdown will be incremental, not all at once.

Holcomb asked 17 industry groups last week to submit suggestions by Wednesday for how to go about reopening. He says he’s talked with some of those groups about making clear where their members can get masks and gloves, in the event those protections are required at first.

State health commissioner Kristina Box says the initial burst of coronavirus cases in Indiana was traceable to large gatherings like weddings, funerals and conferences. She says the focal point of the outbreak now is long-term care facilities. A quarter of Indiana’s 800 nursing homes and assisted-living communities have had coronavirus cases, and 162 deaths — one quarter of Indiana’s statewide total — have come in 74 facilities.

The Department of Correction has confirmed 233 coronavirus cases among prison inmates, including one death at Westville. Chief medical officer Kristen Dauss says she’s been talking with Ohio prison officials about how they managed to mass-test inmates, in hopes of initiating similar testing here. Ohio’s testing found three-quarters of prisoners infected with the virus, many of them without symptoms.