INDIANAPOLIS — For the first time in months, state leaders held a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in Indiana.

Gov. Eric Holcomb joined State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver for the 2:30 p.m. briefing.

The update came a critical time. On Dec. 19, the state announced it had detected its first case of the omicron variant in Indiana.

The city of Indianapolis is preparing to welcome tens of thousands of people for the upcoming College Football National Championship Game. The event, scheduled for Jan. 10, will put central Indiana in the national spotlight.

Concerns about the omicron variant have risen in recent weeks, with the CDC reporting a single-day record of new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday with 441,278 new cases in the U.S. Newly reported cases and hospitalizations have also been on the rise within the last month in Indiana.

In November, Holcomb announced he would extend the public health emergency spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic through the end of December. On Wednesday, Holcomb extended the order through February 1, 2022. He had signaled a willingness to bring the emergency to an end if the legislature passed three key provisions:

  • Allow for the continuation of enhanced federal matching funds for Medicaid expenditures
  • Allow for the continuation of the enhanced benefit for those receiving federal food assistance
  • Extend the ability to efficiently vaccinate 5- to 11-year-olds

Holcomb announced on March 31 that he would end his weekly coronavirus briefings. Since then, Box and Weaver have held a few briefings to discuss things like the delta variant and Indiana’s vaccination progress.