INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb and various state staff tested negative for COVID-19, officials said Thursday.
The results come after State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announced Wednesday she had contracted the novel coronavirus – likely from her grandson and daughter who also tested positive.
Box is quarantining for 14 days.
Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer for the Indiana State Department of Health; several members of the governor's office, and several members of the state department of health were also tested. All were negative.
According to Box and Weaver, the governor and staff members did not meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's definition of close contact as they were socially distanced and wore masks during their interactions. But they were tested out of an abundance of caution.
Holcomb is resuming his normal schedule with vigilance about masking and social distancing.
The news came as Holcomb's opponents ratcheted up attacks on how Holcomb is handling COVID-19.
"While I clearly believe that COVID-19 is a serious health issue, especially for those in high risk demographics, I find it insulting for a governor, who can't even wear a mask appropriately while on television, to tell Hoosiers that people who don't wear masks in small gatherings are causing others to get sick,” said Libertarian governor nominee Donald Rainwater.
Holcomb wore a mask during his Wednesday briefing and it often slipped below his nose. He also chastised Hoosiers for not staying socially distanced.
Rainwater noted that if Box can practice the highest level of risk mitigation and still test positive, “this indicates that the precautionary measures are not 100% effective. The fact that Dr. Box received both a negative test result and a positive test result clearly indicates that testing is unreliable and inaccurate.”
Box first took a rapid test, which has less accuracy, and it was negative. But a more sensitive test was positive.
Democratic nominee Dr. Woody Myers held a reporter briefing Thursday in which he said Holcomb is frozen due to the election.
"How many more Hoosiers have to die because Indiana does not have the courage to take the actions that are required?" he asked.
Indiana's positivity rate has climbed steadily in recent weeks as Holcomb moved Indiana to Stage 5, which has few restrictions. More than 1,300 Hoosiers are hospitalized statewide for the coronavirus – the highest point since May.
Holcomb has refused to go backward in his stages, now saying a statewide approach is not appropriate. Instead, he wants to attack individual outbreaks in counties. He did extend the state mask order, but it still has no enforcement teeth.
Myers said the mask mandate should have some consequences – such as a fine for noncompliance. He compared it to not wearing your seatbelt or smoking in a restricted area. He favors moving Indiana back with capacity limits on businesses but not a complete shutdown.