Indiana COVID 19 In the present day: IN Reviews 734 New COVID-19 Circumstances, 20 Deaths; Governor Holcomb extends the present restrictions

WHITING, Ind. (WLS) – Indiana reports 734 new COVID-19 cases and 20 more deaths Tuesday as the governor decided to extend the state’s current restrictions.

The Indiana Department of Health confirmed a total of 57,916 positive coronavirus cases in the state, including 2,652 deaths. 644,805 tests were performed with a positivity rate of 9%.

Officials in Indiana’s second largest county and one of Indianapolis’ largest suburbs have issued face mask mandates for residents and businesses to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Mandates for all of Lake County, northwestern Indiana went into effect Monday, while the order for the town of Fishers will go into effect on Friday. Previously, mask requests were issued for the cities of Indianapolis, Evansville, and West Lafayette, and Counties of Monroe, LaPorte, St. Joseph, Elkhart, and LaGrange.

Governor Eric Holcomb has declined to give a statewide mandate despite the recent rise in coronavirus infections and hospitalizations.

The state will extend its current restaurant and bar capacity limits and other restrictions for at least two more weeks due to the increasing number of coronavirus cases across the state. Holcomb delayed lifting these limits for the first time two weeks ago, but said Wednesday that a persistently volatile environment in Indiana and other states had caused it to keep them in place for at least two more weeks. Holcomb’s decision means that Indiana restaurants will continue to have 75% capacity in their dining rooms while bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys, museums and cinemas can be open at half capacity.

Indiana Dunes National Park has launched a coronavirus safety campaign urging visitors to northwest Indiana Park to practice social distancing and other precautions when they reach the beach. The Northwest Indiana Times reports that the park’s “Think Before You Beach” campaign began on Saturday with signs on the shores of Lake Michigan, as well as social media posts and videos reminding visitors of social distance, masking, and public Use facilities with caution. Park spokesman Bruce Rowe said the campaign “is a reminder to the public that if they don’t wear a mask or if they don’t socialize, they can catch the virus outdoors on a crowded beach.”

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is back to offering driving exams months after the coronavirus pandemic caused the state agency to cancel exams for more than 4,000 people. As of Thursday, the BMV will be offering driving tests in selected municipalities by appointment. It is expected that all branches will offer dates for driving exams starting July 24th. BMV Commissioner Peter Lacy says that the 4,000 Hoosiers whose driving tests have been canceled “will be given priority so that their test is completed before the schedule is opened to the public”. Customers and driving examiners must meet certain health requirements, including wearing a mask.

Another county in northwest Indiana issued a mask mandate with immediate effect Monday. The Lake County Indiana Health Department requires facial coverings in businesses and other indoor public spaces. The order also stated that kindergarten through 12th grade students must wear masks on the school bus, in public areas of the school, and in classrooms.

LaPorte County officials last week passed a mandate mandating face masks in the county, including outdoor public areas where 6 feet cannot be kept.

Because of this order, and the increase in COVID-19 cases, deaths, and a “large influx” of out-of-state visitors to Washington Park, Michigan Mayor Duane Parry closed the park, effective Friday at 12:01 am. The closure extends through Thursday midnight and includes the zoo, senior citizen center, Sunset Grille, and all city beaches from Washington Park to stop 13.

The mayor said in a statement that the executive order could be extended if circumstances warrant.
The city of Whiting announced that it will close Whihala Beach with effect from July 15 until further notice for reasons of public safety. Indiana beaches have attracted an unusually high number of people, according to city officials, making it difficult to comply with social distancing requirements and other CDC guidelines. The amount of sand area is also reduced due to the high water level of Lake Michigan.

“We have seen an alarming disregard of all Covid-19 protocols and park controls in the past few weeks. We are no longer confident that we can provide a reasonably safe ‘health environment’ to our customers,” said Joe Stahura, Mayor of Whiting.

Holcomb said the state can expect a temporary suspension of capacity expansions in restaurants, bars and entertainment venues as the number of daily hospitalized and admitted COVID-19 patients increased over the past week. The daily positivity rate has also increased slightly, he said.

“This virus is on the lookout and is gaining momentum in some places without slowing down,” Holcomb said. “Some states that have reopened are now going back and closing some facilities. We don’t want to be in that situation.”

The state moved ahead of schedule to phase 4 of its reopening plan. However, phase 5, which was supposed to start on July 4th, has been delayed. Instead, the state entered what is known as “Phase 4.5” on July 4th.

Phase 4.5 will be largely the same as Phase 4, Holcomb said. Indiana will maintain the existing restrictions through at least July 18th. The state will also continue its current restriction of 250 people for social gatherings. As of June 12, restaurants have a 75% capacity in their dining rooms, while bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys, museums and amusement parks are open at half capacity.

RELATED: Find Coronavirus Testing in Northwest Indiana

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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