Coronavirus in Indiana: State moves into Phase 4 as COVID-19 cases reach 39,146 with 2,214 deaths

Indiana moves into Phase 4 Friday, 2 days early
INDIANAPOLIS (WLS) -- Indiana's governor announced Wednesday that the state will move to Phase 4 of its reopening plan on Friday, two days ahead of schedule.

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.

Indiana Gov. Eric 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 can 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.

Olympia Lanes in Hammond is still sticking with Monday to reopen even though Holcomb pushed up the start date Wednesday.

"That would have been awesome if the governor might have had a press conference on Monday and let's us know on June 12, we would have been able to open. That would have gave me four days to prepare instead of just one day to prepare," said Mike Kozi, from Olympia Lanes GM.

"We are going to tell them when they get done, leave everything right at your table. My staff will come, pick up their bowling balls, cleaning their bowling balls, sanitize their bowling balls, do the tables, do the chairs and put the shoes back and clean them all up," Kozi said.

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

"Even though all the amenities won't be the same when we closed down in March, I think they will be very pleased on how things reopen," said Dan Nita, Caesars Entertainment Regional President.

Northwest Indiana businesses are preparing for more Illinois residents to cross the state line since there are fewer restrictions in Indiana.

"We even changed our front entrance to accommodate many more guests," Nita said.

"The governor has done a great job. I am pretty happy what he's done," Kozi said.

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

Holcomb's reopening plan is set to start July 4th.

Holcomb said the state has continued to see falling hospitalizations and case rates statewide, except in LaGrange and Elkhart counties. However, those two counties will still be allowed to move to Phase 4 on Friday.

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He said Thursday that all 92 counties will move forward.

"I'm grateful to Hoosiers who have helped maintain our momentum and slow the spread of COVID-19 by exercising caution and following health guidance," Holcomb said. "As we advance to Stage 4 and further reopen Indiana for business, we'll continue to monitor our progress and make data-informed decisions."

The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide has decreased for 14 days; the state retains its surge capacity for critical care beds and ventilators; the state retains its ability to test all Hoosiers who are COVID-19 symptomatic as well as health care workers, first responders and frontline employees; and health officials have systems in place to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and expand contact tracing, the governor said.

As the state lifts restrictions and more people return to work, visit a store or restaurant and participate in more activities, the number of COVID-19 cases will increase. All or portions of the state may need to pause on moving forward or may need to return to an earlier phase of the governor's Back On Track roadmap if the health care criteria are not met.

Residents 65 or older or with high-risk health conditions should remain home as much as possible, Holcomb said; face coverings in public are also recommended.

Here's what the next phase means 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 Monday.

  • 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 Monday with the approval of the Indiana Gaming Commission.

  • Conventions, fairs, festivals, parades and similar events remain closed.

  • As the number of novel coronavirus cases increases across the U.S. and around the world, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indiana reached 39,146 with 2,214 deaths in the state Friday.

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    There were also 335,180 COVID-19 tests conducted as of Friday in the state.

    Indiana had about 24,000 people apply for unemployment benefits last week as the state marked a 12th week of significant coronavirus-related job losses. A federal report released Thursday shows new jobless aid applications submitted last week in Indiana were roughly equal to the week before. The level is about one-sixth of Indiana's weekly peak of 139,000 in late March when coronavirus business closures first hit hard. Indiana leaders are hoping for an economic recovery as the lifting of state's business restrictions continues. Indiana had the country's fifth-highest unemployment rate for April at 16.9%, topping the national rate of 14.7%.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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