Indiana COVID-19 Update: IN Gov. Holcomb holds to decision of ending mask mandate

IN COVID vaccine eligibility expanded to all residents 16 and up
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is sticking by his decision to lift the statewide mask mandate next week amid concerns from health experts about more contagious coronavirus variants and a request from President Joe Biden for states to keep such rules in place.

Holcomb said Wednesday that he also had not heard from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear since his comments Monday hoping that Holcomb would reconsider the dropping of Indiana's mandate starting April 6.

Holcomb said Beshear had his cellphone number and was welcome to call, but that he wasn't looking to change his mind.

IN COVID vaccine eligibility expanded to all residents 16 and up

Indiana opened COVID vaccine appointments to all residents 16 and older Wednesday.

Residents can make an appointment by dialing 211 or visiting the state website

The state is no longer requiring proof of residency to be FEMA compliant and to help people who may not have documents mailed to their address.

Diana Garcia Burns, director of the East Chicago Health Department, called the vaccine expansion a "game changer" at a troubling inflection point.

"The more people that are vaccinated, the less likely the increase spread of disease," Garcia Burns said. "Our COVID cases are ticking upward, so it's important."

Indiana lawmakers advance bill allowing health order appeals

Indiana lawmakers have advanced legislation that would make it easier to overturn local health orders or enforcement actions.

The move comes amid complaints from conservatives about Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb's statewide response to the coronavirus.

The Senate bill creates a process allowing the public to appeal local health orders to county or city elected boards. Such orders can include citations, fines or an order to close a business. After an appeal is filed, the enforcement action is halted until the matter is resolved.

That could allow a business to stay open until an appeal is heard by a city or county board, even if it is not following health orders.

Indiana reports 1,240 new cases, 9 deaths

Indiana public health officials announced 1,240 new COVID-19 cases and 9 additional deaths on Thursday.

Overall, 12,642 Indiana residents have died from COVID-19 and 687,713 have contracted it since the start of the pandemic.

Health officials say the latest recorded seven-day positive COVID-19 test rate in the state is 4%. Health officials say there have been more than 8.9 million tests administered.

WLS-TV contributed to this report.
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