Holcomb extends restrictions into late January, lifts pause on hospital elective procedures

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You may have noticed that the number of people who have been reported dead from coronavirus has gone down the past couple of weeks. The number of people infected has also declined. State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box says don’t let that fool you.

“It’s too soon to say that we have turned a corner,” she said at Wednesday’s COVID press conference. “We do expect that the number of cases is going to bounce back up in the coming weeks.”

Box said one reason fewer cases are being reported is perhaps a decline in testing in December. But, the results of exposures during the Christmas holiday are still ahead.

But, there have been fewer hospitalizations, which prompted Gov. Holcomb to modify his executive order, which now extends three weeks into the new year.

Hospitals are not being required to pause elective surgeries. But, that could change if the numbers go the wrong way.

The state’s positivity rate is now at 13.7 percent. It increased by two percent over the past week after a correction to the formula that is used to calculate that rate, and a recent change to the methodology. Every Indiana county that surrounds St. Joseph County is in the “red zone.”  St. Joseph County remains in the “orange zone.”

Sen. Mike Braun hopped on the press conference, via Zoom from Washington, where the Senate is working on another possible relief direct payment. While that has not been finalized and may be far from it, Braun said you could be seeing the $600 direct payment already approved, in your bank account soon.

Braun said the Paycheck Protection Program, which was renewed with the COVID Relief Bill, is geared this time more toward helping small businesses, with fewer employees.

As for your New Year’s celebration, Box is offering the same advice she has for other holidays: stay home.

But, if you’re not so inclined, she had some suggestions, “having a celebration with members of your immediate household, calling friends and families to count the new year together, or even planning a neighborhood countdown at midnight where people stand at the front of their homes or on the street and cheer at midnight.”

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