Coronavirus Indiana: IN reports 455 new COVID-19 cases, 15 deaths as Phase 4.5 begins

Indianapolis officials ordering mandatory face masks

ByLiz Nagy and ABC 7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Indiana pauses reopening as 371 new COVID-19 cases reported
Indiana officials are pausing the state's reopening, as they announced 371 new COVID-19 cases and 8 additional deaths on Wednesday.

WHITING, Ind. (WLS) -- Indiana is reporting 455 new COVID-19 cases and 15 additional deaths as the state enters Phase 4.5 of reopening.

On Wednesday, the Indiana State Department of Health confirmed a total of 49,063 positive coronavirus cases in the state, including 2,539 deaths. There have been 535,857 tests conducted, with a 9.2% positivity rate.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said last week the state could expect a temporary pause in increasing capacity at restaurants, bars and entertainment venues because the number of COVID-19 patients hospitalized and admitted daily has increased during the past week. The daily positivity rate has also ticked up slightly, he said.

"This virus is on the prowl and in some places gaining momentum, not slowing down," Holcomb said. "Some states that reopened are now going back and closing some facilities. We don't want to find ourselves in that situation."

The state moved to Phase 4 of its reopening plan ahead of schedule. But Phase 5, which was supposed to begin July 4, will be delayed. Instead, the state will enter what it calls "Phase 4.5" on July 4.

Phase 4.5 will be largely the same as Phase 4, Holcomb said. Indiana will keep existing restrictions in place until at least July 18. The state will also continue its current 250-person limit on social gatherings. Since June 12, restaurants have been allowed 75% capacity in their dining rooms, while bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys, museums and amusement parks have been open at half capacity.

"A little disappointing. Fourth of July we were thinking was going to be nice," said Kevin Clark, owner of Bulldog Brewing. "I can see his point of view, data shows things need to slow down a little bit, and that's what we need to do."

"Our business hasn't really picked up as much as some people hoped once restrictions started to ease up," added Rich Bankse, owner of Comfort Roast.

There's hesitation even from business owners, and some businesses have simply not been prepared to open during a pandemic. For other businesses, owners making money is really only possible at maximum capacity. Without that, they can't hire staff back.

It's frustrating, but after months of being shut down entirely owners are inclined to be a little more understanding, if apprehensive.

The state also introduced a new campaign called "Mask Up Hoosiers."

"We are not asking, we are recommending in the strongest terms possible (to wear a mask)," Holcomb said. The governor held up a mask during a press briefing and played a video that showed him and other Indiana residents wearing masks.

Indianapolis announced a new mandate on Thursday that will require face masks be worn in all public places.

Mayor Joe Hogsett said the rule takes effect July 9. It requires face coverings in all indoor public spaces unless a person is alone in an office or eating at a restaurant.

Many businesses were caught off guard with Indiana starting stage 4 early, especially in Lake County which has been a week behind most of the state in the governor's reopening plan.

Holcomb defended his decision to move the state into the next stage with COVID-19 still spreading.

In Stage 4 office buildings, retail stores and malls are allowed open at full capacity. Restaurants can have up to 75 percent capacity in their dining rooms. Bars, nightclubs, Bowling alleys, Movie theaters, Amusement parks can open at 50 percent capacity.

Casinos were also allowed to reopen at reduced capacity. Horseshoe Hammond Casino will implement new health and safety protocols.

RELATED: Indiana Reopening: Casinos welcome back gamblers with new safety measures

Most casinos in Indiana reopened Monday morning with new safety measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Social distancing guidelines are still in place, and face coverings are still recommended.

We've compiled the need-to-know information and resources to keep you and your family informed and safe. You can find all of ABC7's latest reporting on the COVID-19 outbreak here.

Here's what phase four meant for Indiana:

  • Crowds of 250 or less
  • State government buildings will no longer have access restrictions.
  • Professional office building employees may resume work at full capacity.
  • Retail stores and malls may open at full capacity with social distancing rules.
  • Restaurant dining room service may increase to 75% capacity.
  • Bar seating in restaurants may open at 50% capacity.
  • Bars and nightclubs may open at 50% capacity with social distancing rules.
  • Cultural, entertainment and tourism businesses such as museums, zoos, bowling alleys and aquariums may open at 50% capacity.
  • Large venues may reopen with social distancing rules.
  • Amusement parks, water parks and similar facilities may open at 50% capacity with required reservations to limit customers.
  • Movie theaters may open at 50% capacity.
  • Horse racing may begin this weekend with no spectators.
  • Casinos may reopen.
  • Playgrounds may reopen, though the state health commissioner recommended that parents take extra caution with their children after playing.
  • Outdoor visitation may take place at assisted living facilities and nursing homes; hospital visitations are encouraged with precautions.
  • Community recreational non-contact sports practices, games and tournaments may resume. Contact sports, such as football, basketball, rugby or wrestling, can conduct conditioning and non-contact drills. Contact sports may resume games or tournaments beginning June 19. Before any games or tournaments, the host must make publicly available a COVID-19 response plan outlining the steps being taken to ensure social distancing, increased sanitation and overall protection of competitors, coaches, staff and spectators.
  • Raceways may open at 50% grandstand capacity
  • Pari-mutuel horse racing may begin with no spectators at Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand facilities. Charity gaming and casinos may open with the approval of the Indiana Gaming Commission.
  • Conventions, fairs, festivals, parades and similar events remain closed.
  • RELATED: Here's where to find coronavirus testing in Northwest Indiana

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.