INDIANAPOLIS — “Hoosiers should be proud,” said Indiana Governor Holcomb when asked to look back on 2020. He said our small business and places of worship deserve credit for bearing the brunt of this pandemic. 

Holcomb and State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box also reflected on the tragic losses and spoke of the thousands of Hoosiers who didn’t get to experience the holidays this year. 

Holcomb and his team shared the CDC’s tips for celebrating the new year responsibly to try to prevent further deaths: 

U.S. Senator Mike Braun also joined Wednesday’s update to discuss the passage of the new COVID-19 relief bill. He said one feature is that the new Paycheck Protection Program threshold is set at 300 employees, hoping to target Main Street.

Braun said the $600 direct payments passed as part of the bill, and direct deposits to Hoosier accounts should be seen within the next day or so.

He also explained public discourse sometimes confused the issues surrounding the government spending bill with the coronavirus relief bill. Braun said targeted funding versus extraneous spending was one of the reasons the relief took so long to pass.

Governor Holcomb opened the briefing by extending the current executive order by three weeks – now through January 24th.

He said the majority of restrictions are staying the same, however numbers of hospitalizations have improved. Therefore, the new order lifts previous restrictions on non-emergent hospital procedures. The governor said Indiana’s hospital systems have assured the state government that they can manage.

Holcomb also encouraged Hoosiers to continue the tradition of taking the trails of Indiana’s state parks on January 1st, but keeping socially distant is still important. The State Parks Department will be providing guidance including additional signage on the walking/running trails.

Dr. Box said this year has been like no other, but added that there is hope. “Listen to what the data shows us and act accordingly,” said Dr. Box. 

On Wednesday, The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reported 4,819 more positive coronavirus cases and announced 109 additional confirmed COVID-19 deaths. 

Dr. Box reported the latest dashboard data indicating the state’s 7-day all-test positivity rate of 13.7%. This week, the ISDH County Metric map was updated to show 1 county in Yellow, 46 in Orange and 45 in Red.

The ISDH dashboard was updated today to reflect the change in positivity reporting as mentioned in last week’s briefing:

Dr. Box asked Hoosiers, “Please do not get numb to these numbers,” but again added that Indiana needs to remain vigilant. “In case there was any doubt, we are far from out-of-the-woods,” she said.

ISDH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said the vaccine dashboard should be up by Wednesday night, and will be updated every Wednesday with a current snapshot of the state’s vaccine distribution numbers.

Secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) Dr. Jennifer Sullivan reported the COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on Hooisers’ mental health. 

She discussed the “Be Well Indiana” program which has a helpline and a text line. She said cold weather and the holiday season has been difficult for people with existing mental illnesses and those experiencing acute stress.

Dr. Sullivan said Hoosiers can reach out to others, take the self assessment, call the hotline, talk to your doctor or text HOME to 741-741 to get help.

Holcomb thanked Dr. Sullivan for FSSA’s hard work and stressed that Hoosiers need to look out for each other. “If you do need help, there are folks that want to help.There are folks that here to help you get through this tough time. It’s as easy as calling 211.”