Today, Governor Holcomb announced that Indiana will move to Stage 5 of the “Back on Track” program on Saturday, September 26th! This decision was based on the recent, very positive, experience our state has had with COVID-19. We are testing around 15,000 people per day statewide, the rolling seven-day positivity rate remains low and is consistently near 4%, and hospital bed and ventilator usage for COVID patients remains small. It is important to note that the Governor did not remove the face covering requirement and made special note that our positive experience is related to the continued use of masks, voluntary social distancing, and hand hygiene.
I am thrilled with this announcement by the Governor as it represents a major step forward in our continued journey through the pandemic and is an indication that the work we have done locally, and throughout the state, has had very positive results. That said, we cannot become complacent. This insidious disease can flare up quickly and affects the most vulnerable among us. In Hancock County, since the pandemic began, 914 residents have tested positive but only 43 have died. This seems like good news until one considers that, while only 16% of the individuals testing positive were over the age of 70, this age bracket represents nearly 90% of the deaths.
With this in mind, please avoid crowds (especially indoors), wash your hands frequently, and wear face coverings. Be especially mindful when spending time with elderly friends and loved ones as they are the ones most at risk from the disease. But please spend time with them, even if only virtually. I am convinced we are experiencing just the beginning of the epidemic of loneliness with the associated depression, anxiety, and substance abuse that accompanies it. As we continue to L.O.V.E. people for a living we cannot forget that success lies both in wearing masks and showing compassion.
All the Best