Dr. Box: No plans to move down from Stage 5 in Indiana despite rise in COVID cases

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Indiana’s health commissioner says a rise in coronavirus cases over the last week-and-a-half is cause for concern, but says there’s no plan to re tighten restrictions.

For the first time in nearly a month, Indiana’s positivity rate is at five-percent, the point where health officials warn risk levels become significant. Health commissioner Kristina Box says 39 Indiana counties are still below that level. While that’s nearly a third fewer than last week, it’s still close to half Indiana’s 92 counties. Box says the administration concluded last month, as the average fell below four-percent, that it no longer made sense to keep the whole state under the same restrictions.

Box emphasizes that the move two weeks ago to Stage 5 of Governor Holcomb’s reopening plan doesn’t mean everything is back to normal. She notes social distancing is still required, a mask order remains in place, and local health departments must approve plans for large events.

Box cautions the state could reimpose restrictions if people don’t follow those rules, plus other precautions like washing your hands regularly and staying home if you feel sick.

The health department classifies nine counties as hotspots based on a combination of positivity rates and the number of cases compared to the total population, all except Grant and Henry.

Counties are clustered in southwest Indiana. While three counties have outbreaks linked to long term care facilities or jails, Box says one outbreak has been traced to a gathering of more than 30 unmasked people without social distancing. Others have been linked to bars, restaurants, weddings or funerals in southwest Indiana.

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