Indiana coronavirus: IN reports 1,302 new COVID-19 cases, 17 deaths

Officials worry about virus outbreaks in parts of Indiana
INDIANAPOLIS (WLS) -- Indiana reported 1,302 new COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths Wednesday.

The Indiana State Department of Health confirmed a total of 128,227 positive coronavirus cases in the state, including 3,500 deaths.

In the last 24 hours, officials have conducted 21,515 tests, with a seven-day positivity rate of 5%.

Health officials are warning about a growing number of COVID-19 illnesses in the Evansville and South Bend areas as the state health department added 17 more coronavirus-related deaths to Indiana's pandemic toll less than two weeks after most statewide precaution rules were lifted.

The agency reported that average reached 1,178 through Tuesday.

That rolling average has grown about 40% since Sept. 24.

Local health officials say they're worried about Evansville- and South Bend-area hospitals becoming overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.

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

This comes as the state opened polling places for in-person early voting Tuesday.

Voters will be required to wear masks at certain polling locations like the Lake County Government Center, Hammond County Courthouse and East Chicago County Courthouse, Indiana Election and Registration Board President, Michelle Fajman said. Other locations may not require a mask to enter the building.

In-person voting will be open through November 2. Operation times for each polling place will vary across the state.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has defended his recent decision to lift most coronavirus restrictions as balancing lives and economic livelihoods. Democratic governor candidate Dr. Woody Myers calls the easing of precautions "a huge mistake."

High school football returned to Hammond on Saturday. The City of Hammond school district voted to reinstate it in early August, after originally voting to cancel the season because of pandemic.

A national lobbying group said about two-thirds of Indiana's hotels could be forced to close permanently in the coming months if Congress doesn't provide more coronavirus financial relief.
RELATED: Crown Point looks to install facial recognition cameras to help in COVID-19 contact tracing

The hospitality industry has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic. The American Hotel & Lodging Association cites a survey from its members in estimating that nearly 700 of Indiana's 1,042 hotels will permanently close within the next six months if they don't obtain additional funding.

The Indianapolis Business Journal reports that hotels and other related businesses have laid off or furloughed thousands of workers since the pandemic began in March.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.