Virus worry prompts Indiana governor debate format change
INDIANAPOLIS (WLS) -- Indiana reported 1,551 new COVID-19 cases and 48 deaths Tuesday.
The Indiana State Department of Health confirmed a total of 150,664 positive coronavirus cases in the state, including 3,775 deaths.
In the last 24 hours, officials have conducted 17,654 tests, with a seven-day positivity rate of 6.7%.
The debate set for Tuesday night among the three candidates for Indiana governor has been changed to a virtual format in what organizers said was a coronavirus safety move. The nonprofit Indiana Debate Commission says the candidates will all be present at the WFYI-TV studio in Indianapolis but they and the moderator will be in separate spaces for the hour-long debate that begins at 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday. The group said it has discussed the new format with the campaigns for Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, Democratic challenger Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb hears lots of criticism over how he's led Indiana during the coronavirus pandemic over the past seven months.
The two challengers to Holcomb's reelection bid split on whether he's been too passive in attacking the virus spread or that he's trampled people's rights with the statewide stay-at-home order early in the outbreak and the mask mandate first issued in July.
Holcomb has huge campaign fundraising and organization advantages over Democrat Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater. Holcomb maintains Indiana's economy is strong and bouncing back quickly, while he's taken the proper steps to control the COVID-19 spread.
While Holcomb announced Wednesday he would extend his statewide mask order for another month, he decided against reinstating tougher restrictions at the statewide level.
Instead, Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for the Indiana State Department of Health, outlined "very clear guidance and expectations" regarding actions that should occur within each county based on its rating in the state's color-coded rating system for coronavirus risks, though none of the recommendations come with guaranteed restrictions or specific enforcement mechanisms.
State metrics released Wednesday indicated an increase in counties moving into the orange rating - up to 21 from eight last week. Weaver said state health officials will convene local officials in these counties to discuss necessary restrictions and ways of monitoring social distancing requirements.
Indiana's Rental Assistance Portal is accepting applications for a program that provides eligible renters with up to six months in rental assistance to help cover past due and ongoing monthly payments.
The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority has dedicated $15 million in federal Housing and Urban Development funding to help individuals and families who are at a high risk of being homeless.
The goal is to keep Hoosiers in stable housing so they may move through the coronavirus pandemic without further disruption.
More information can be found on the top banner of the www.indianahousingnow.org website.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
The video in the player above is from an earlier report.