The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, March 24, 2020 1:00 am

Hoosiers ordered to stay home

Holcomb: Be part of solution

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric Holcomb played on patriotism and duty Monday as he asked Hoosiers to hunker down and issued a stay-at-home order that begins Wednesday.

“To everyone who is playing by the rules, to all those companies contributing to our war effort to slow the spread, we say thank you,” he said in a live address to Hoosiers from his Statehouse office.

Holcomb stressed that cases of COVID-19 continue to rise and hospitals are becoming overrun.

“Make no mistake about it, this disease is killing people, and time is of the essence,” he said.

The requirement to stay-at-home except for essential activity is in effect until April 7.

“The next two weeks are critical if we are to slow the spread of COVID-19, and we must slow the spread. You must be part of the solution, not the problem,” Holcomb said.

Similar orders in other states are also called shelter-in-place, but the aim is the same – to limit travel and interaction between people that could result in more sick Hoosiers and an overwhelmed health care system.

The latest tally from the Indiana State Department of Health has 259 Hoosiers diagnosed with COVID-19 – up 58 cases from Sunday.

Seven Hoosiers have died, including an Allen County adult over age 60 whose death was announced Sunday by the Allen County Department of Health.

A total of 1,960 tests have been reported to the state health department to date, including 466 in the last 24 hours.

Doctors and hospitals have already reported running low on supplies such as masks and gowns, which keep health care workers safe.

There are wide exemptions to the order. People can still go to the grocery store, pick up medicine and be outside with appropriate distance from others. And many people can still work. Essential businesses and services include, but are not limited to, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, doctor's offices, health care facilities, day cares, laundromats, garbage pickup and public transit.

Other protected businesses include media, hardware stores, gun shops, painters, banks, payday lenders, lawyers, accountants and electronics stores.

Businesses that do stay open are directed to do so with minimum basic operations and to enforce social distancing, including having sanitizer available and maintaining a 6-foot separation between people.

Holcomb thanked the restaurant workers who have been laid off and the health care workers taking extra shifts during the public health emergency.

“We owe it to them to get through this as fast as we can,” he said.

As part of his announcement, Holcomb said state government will shut down nonessential agencies and extend any licenses 60 days. Indiana State Police, child protective services, National Guard, unemployment and other key offices will remain open.

Holcomb said 54,000 Hoosiers filed for unemployment last week – up from 3,000 for the same week a year ago.

“I know we'll bounce back,” he said.

Holcomb noted that a week ago he ordered bars and restaurants to close except for carryout and delivery, and he knows some aren't following the rules. So he instructed the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to pull food and beverage licenses if an establishment violates the order.

Under the stay-at-home order, “law enforcement will not be stopping drivers on their way to and from work, traveling for an essential activity such as going to the grocery store, or just taking a walk.” 

Those breaking the order face a misdemeanor.

House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta, of Fort Wayne, lauded the move in a statement.

“Thanks to Governor Holcomb's recent mandate, keeping Hoosiers safe isn't a suggestion anymore. ... I stand with the governor's decision to require Hoosiers to stay at home unless performing essential activities such as buying food or seeking medical attention.”

GiaQuinta said he recognizes the stress this puts on families and workers and thanked those doing their best every day to lower the impact of the virus.

“I hope that the medical workers, grocery store employees, educators and other essential employees stay in the spotlight as the true heroes in this time of struggle and continue to receive our gratitude after this time has passed,” he said.

Questions about the order

Is this mandatory or a recommendation?

This order is mandatory. For the safety of all Hoosiers, people must stay home and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

How will this order be enforced?

If the order is not followed, the Indiana State Police will work with local law enforcement to enforce it. The Indiana State Department of Health and the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission will enforce the restaurant and bar restrictions.

Will the grocery store/pharmacy be open?

Yes, grocery stores and pharmacies are essential services.

Can I still order takeout/delivery from restaurants and bars?

Yes, restaurants and bars can continue to provide takeout and delivery but should be closed to dine-in patrons.

Will roads in Indiana be closed?

No, the roads will remain open. You should travel only if it is for your health or essential work.

Can I visit friends and family?

For your safety, as well as the safety of all Hoosiers, you should remain at home to help fight the spread of COVID-19. You may visit family members who need medical or other essential assistance, such as ensuring an adequate food supply.

Can I walk my dog or go to the veterinarian?

You are allowed to walk your dog and seek medical care for your pet should they require it. Practice social distancing while out on walks, maintaining at least 6 feet from neighbors and their pets.

Can I take my kids to the park?

State parks remain open, but welcome centers, inns and other buildings are closed. Families will be able to go outside and take a walk, run or bike ride, but they should continue to practice social distancing by remaining 6 feet away from other people. Playgrounds are closed because they pose a high risk of increasingly spreading the virus.

Can I attend a religious service?

Large gatherings, including church services, have been canceled to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Religious leaders are encouraged to continue livestreaming their services while practicing social distancing with one another.

Can I leave my home to exercise?

Outdoor exercise such as running or walking is acceptable. However, gyms, fitness centers and associated facilities will be closed to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus. While exercising outside, you still should practice social distancing by running or walking at least 6 feet away from other people.

Can I go to the hair salon, spa, nail salon, tattoo parlor or barber shop?

No, these businesses are ordered to close.

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