Coronavirus in Indiana: COVID-19 cases reach 40K with 2,265 deaths days after moving into Phase 4

Northern Indiana's LaGrange County requires face masks
INDIANAPOLIS (WLS) -- Indiana announced 440 new coronavirus cases and 14 additional deaths Tuesday.

The Indiana State Department of Health announced on Tuesday that there have been a total of 2,265 coronavirus deaths overall and 40,786 total cases in the state.

A northern Indiana health department is requiring everyone to wear a mask or face covering over the mouth and nose following a steep increase of cases since Memorial Day.

The LaGrange County Health Department says the county has seen a sharp rise in COVID-19 illnesses, and the best defense is hand washing, social distancing and wearing masks.

LaGrange County's cases have spiked, with 215 new cases since Memorial Day. In all, the number has almost quadrupled in 21 days. The Journal Gazette reports LaGrange is one of the few counties in Indiana to mandate the wearing of face coverings.

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Last Friday, the state moved to Phase 4 of its reopening plan, 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 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 on Monday. Horseshoe Hammond Casino will implement new health and safety protocols.

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

"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.

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.

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.

  • RELATED: Here's where to find coronavirus testing in Northwest Indiana

    There were also 363,745 COVID-19 tests conducted as of Tuesday 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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