Gov. Eric Holcomb
(Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

Holcomb: More Hoosiers Heeding Pandemic Warnings As Cases Soar

(INDIANAPOLIS) — Fighting the coronavirus pandemic has included fighting disinformation from
people who deny that the virus is serious or even exists.

Governor Holcomb says one reason the state has published regular updates on the virus’s spread is
to make sure people understand how serious it is. One handicap in controlling the virus has been
persuading people to wear masks and take other precautions. The state has had a mask mandate
since July, but without enforcement provisions. Holcomb says the three-month surge in cases and
hospitalizations has prompted more people to follow health recommendations. He suggests some people weren’t virus deniers, but were “shy” about asking those around them to wear masks or take other precautions. At this point, he says, a growing number of Hoosiers have seen the virus strike people close to them.

Holcomb notes the virus burned through the U.S. at an unprecedented pace in December, with one
death every 35 seconds. Indiana had one death every 17 minutes last month, with the total death toll
since the start of the pandemic approaching 9,000.

Holcomb has never ruled out increasing restrictions if things get worse, but says there’s no need to
do so right now. He similarly says he can’t rule out the possibility of a surge severe enough to
cancel the NCAA’s plan to hold its entire men’s basketball tournament in Indiana. But he says he’s
confident that won’t happen. He says assessing whether the tourney could be conducted safely was
a key focus of discussions with the NCAA, and says Indiana will have the benefit of watching how
other sports leagues have handled their return to the field.

And while Holcomb acknowledges vaccinations got off to a slow start, he predicts a snowball effect
as more people see that it’s safe. A Family and Social Services Administration survey of nursing
home staffers found a quarter of them planned to get vaccinated eventually, but not as soon as they
became eligible. Holcomb says many others take a similar position of watching to see what happens
with the first wave.

Holcomb concedes some people will never accept the seriousness of the virus or the value of masks,
saying, “The folks who just do not believe the virus is airborne-transmitted….I mean, I’ve got
beachfront property in Clermont that I’d like to talk to you about.”

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