The state of Indiana has banned non-essential gatherings of more than 250 people, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Thursday, in an effort to "reduce the spread of novel coronavirus" in the state. Holcomb also instituted a 20-school day waiver of the required 180 instructional days for use as needed for the remainder of the academic year.
As of Thursday, 12 Indiana residents had tested presumptively positive for COVID-19, Holcomb said.
“This is a time when we must do all we can to reduce the spread of COVID-19, protect our most vulnerable populations and reduce their potential to acquire or spread this virus,” said Holcomb in a statement. “While some actions are drastic, now, not later, is the time to act.”
Holcomb said the following actions would be initiated Thursday:
- Non-essential gatherings must be limited to no more than 250 people. This includes any event or gathering of people who are in one room or a single space at the same time, such as cafeterias, churches, stadiums, meeting and conference rooms, auditoriums and the like. This guidance applies to professional, social, community and similar other gatherings. Detailed guidance will be posted on the Indiana State Department of Health website by the end of the day.
- Effective immediately, school corporations will be provided with a 20-day waiver of the required 180 instructional days for use as needed for the remainder of the academic year. The waived days do not need to be used consecutively and can be leveraged as needed.
- If a school corporation has evidence of community spread or a confirmed positive test for coronavirus, officials should consult with the Indiana Department of Education and the Indiana State Department of Health for additional steps. Schools should plan now for broader closures, including eLearning and remote classroom options. The Department of Education will release additional guidance detailing the process for submitting waiver requests as early as Friday.Schools should follow the guidelines for non-essential gatherings as they make decisions about non-essential extra-curricular or co-curricular activities.
- Child care and adult day care facilities should institute social distancing and minimize large gatherings. Temporary suspension of operations should be done in consultation with the Family and Social Services and ISDH in the instance of documented community spread.
- Nursing facilities and hospitals should restrict and screen visitors. Any individual who is allowed to visit is restricted to the patient’s room. Visitors are not allowed if they present with any of this criteria:
- Display signs or symptoms of illness, especially respiratory illnessHave traveled internationally or been in contact with someone with a respiratory illness in the past 14 daysReside in a community with a known COVID-19 caseThose who are less than 18 years of age
- The Indiana Department of Correction has suspended visitation at all facilities as a precaution for the health and safety of IDOC staff and offenders.
- Individuals over 60 years of age or those with a known underlying health issue such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or chronic respiratory disease should limit their public exposure. Whenever possible, friends and family should arrange to provide food and other essential items.
- Those who run senior centers and congregate meal services should consider suspending congregate meals services and arrange for home delivery
- Encourage businesses to utilize telework policies, if available
Earlier this week, the city of Chicago canceled its downtown and South Side St. Patrick's Day parades, as well as the iconic dyeing of the Chicago River. For a list of Chicago-area event cancellations, click here.
Major sporting events also were canceled as concerns continue to rise over the spread of coronavirus. Major League Baseball announced Thursday it has canceled the rest of its spring training game schedule and delayed the start of the season by at least two weeks. The National Hockey League also said it is pausing its season, following the NBA in doing the same. The NCAA also announced the cancellation of the Division I men’s and women’s 2020 basketball tournaments.