7 More Virus Deaths, 290 Illnesses Reported In Indiana

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, right, speaks during a during a news conference while Dr. Kristina Box, the Indiana state health commissioner, listens on Friday, March 27, 2020, at the Statehouse in Indianapolis. Holcomb said the locations of confirmed COVID-19 cases show that all parts of Indiana are seeing illnesses. (AP Photo/Tom Davies)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Seven more people have died of COVID-19 in Indiana, bringing the state’s coronavirus death toll to 31 in a 10-fold increase from the three deaths reported a week earlier, health officials said Saturday.

ILLNESS SPREADS

Indiana’s number of confirmed cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, grew by 290 to 1,232, the Indiana State Department of Health announced Saturday. Indianapolis had the most new cases at 136, while northwestern Indiana’s Lake County had 23 and Johnson County in suburban Indianapolis had 10.

The state’s number of confirmed cases has jumped nearly 10 times what was reported a week earlier, even as testing remains largely limited to those seriously ill and medical workers.

Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, said Friday Indiana’s peak of coronavirus illnesses is expected in mid- to late-April.

Saturday’s update showed 61% of Indiana’s confirmed coronavirus cases were in Indianapolis and its seven surrounding counties. Confirmed cases, however, were reported in all but 17 of the state’s 92 counties. Those are all in rural areas.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

LEADERS SEPARATE

Indiana’s two top state officials have started working apart due to the pandemic. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch “mutually agreed to be in different locations to socially distance themselves,” Holcomb spokeswoman Rachel Hoffmeyer said Saturday.

Neither has been tested for the COVID-19 illness so far and both have been feeling healthy, Hoffmeyer told The Associated Press.

Holcomb and Crouch both attended a Statehouse news conference on Wednesday. Hoffmeyer didn’t immediately provide information about when the two officials were last together and whether Crouch remained in Indianapolis or had gone to her home in Evansville.

ORDER IMPACT

A statewide stay-at-home order issued by the governor took effect Wednesday, with exemptions for essential businesses to remain open and for necessary trips for food and medicine.

While questions remain about enforcement and whether some businesses are properly remaining open, state figures highlight big declines in traffic.

State highway traffic counts showed that, as of Thursday, overall traffic was down 41% since the first week of March.

“That includes a 45% reduction in light vehicles on our state highways,” state highway Commissioner Joe McGuinness said Friday. “Those are the sedans, minivans and passenger vehicles.”

The South Shore commuter railroad, meanwhile, has seen ridership drop to about 8% of normal for its routes through northwestern Indiana between South Bend and downtown Chicago.

“We’re still maintaining our service,” South Shore Line President Michael Noland said. “We have riders who are dependent on our service.”


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