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INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s stay-at-home order was extended for two more weeks on Friday as the state’s number of coronavirus-related deaths topped 100 with the anticipated illness peak still weeks away.
Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the extension for the order that first took effect March 25 and was set to expire Tuesday, and state and La Porte County officials are urging residents to obey that order.
Dr. Kristina Box, state health commissioner, said people cannot let up on precautions, even as they miss out on spring break trips and Easter gatherings.
“These are not normal times and we cannot act as if they are,” Box said. “I know it’s hard to think about missing a family gathering, but the best thing we can do to protect our loved ones is follow the guidelines.”
Sheila Matias, president of the La Porte County Board of Commissioners, urged county residents to follow the stay-at-home order.
“Please, please, please. I ask our La Porte County residents – in cities, towns, on farms and in the townships – to stay home as much as is humanely possible. It is our only proven weapon against this deadly enemy.
“If you look at locations where they have strictly followed social distancing rules, they have made an impact on the advance of the virus,” Matias said.
“I know it is hard, but in La Porte County, we know how to do tough things. We are a community that cares – and now, more than ever, show your caring spirit by helping all of us contain this health crisis. Stay home unless it is essential that you go out into the community. Please do the right thing.”
Holcomb has repeatedly urged residents to avoid unnecessary trips outside their home and to remain at least six feet from those they don’t live with to help stem the virus spread.
But 24 more deaths were reported Friday, increasing Indiana’s statewide total to 102 for COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, while another 408 confirmed cases boosted the state’s total to 3,437, the Indiana State Department of Health said.
That includes 17 confirmed cases in La Porte County; 45 in Porter County (county officials report 47); 72 in St. Joseph County; 244 in Lake County; 2 in Starke County; 13 in Jasper County; and 4 in Marshall county.
Berrien County, Michigan, reports 40 confirmed cases and 1 death.
Of the 102 Hoosiers who have died, there are 7 reported in Lake County, and 1 each in La Porte, St. Joseph and Jasper counties.
The La Porte County death was a man under 50 with multiple underlying health issues, who died Tuesday, La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora said.
The state’s numbers likely represent only a portion of cases as the limited testing available has been focused on the seriously ill and health care workers. Box estimated 80 percent of people who have the virus have not been tested because they are not in a hospital.
The best available data shows COVID-19 has a “crude” mortality rate of 2.9 percent in Indiana, Box said.
And without going into detail, she said there is a surge of cases in southeastern and southwestern Indiana; and the Indiana suburbs of Louisville, Kentucky.
Holcomb also announced Indiana has been granted a federal Major Disaster Declaration, which provides funds to help communities recover from COVID-19.
The funding can be used to cover emergency needs including crisis counseling, food programs, temporary shelters, protective equipment, safety resources and personnel.
The governor also extended the public health emergency by 30 days – through May 5. It allows the state to increase coordination across all levels of government.
Also Friday, Holcomb announced:
The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration has been working to provide maximum flexibility, including using telehealth, to treatment providers to ensure crucial services for people that suffer from serious mental illness, and children who suffer from severe emotional disturbances, continues. Hoosiers can call 211 or contact their insurance company to find access to teletherapy.
FSSA announced more than 152,000 Indiana households will receive additional Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits when April distributions begin Sunday. The additional funds are intended to help obtain food and support for families.
The Indiana National Guard, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the ISDH will scout locations for potential alternative care sites. Hoosiers may see National Guard members traveling in communities and should not be alarmed, Holcomb said. One possible site is the former St. Anthony Hospital in Michigan City.