Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine gave an update on the city’s response to the coronavirus pandemic during a Tuesday morning press conference.
Here’s what we learned:
- Hogsett opened by saying “the time for warnings is over.” Over the weekend several businesses, he said, disregarded guidance meant to stop the virus from spreading. Hogsett said the sight of spectators packing venues without masks is “beyond discouraging.” The Marion County Public Health Department issued a Notice of Violation to the Indianapolis Speedrome on Monday after finding face covering requirements were not properly enforced and the venue “greatly exceeded” its capacity limit.
- The mayor said health care officials are “demoralized” by what he called irresponsible behavior. Hogsett said he is “pleading” with all residents and business owners to follow public health guidance.
- Caine said some data shows sign of progress but urged people to recommit to public health precautions, noting trends can turn quickly.
- Caine said she has advised the health department to ramp up enforcement of the county’s face mask mandate.
- The county’s most recent seven-day positivity rate (July 28 through Aug. 3) sits at 9.2%. Caine said it appears that rate is starting to decline for the next seven-day period.
- Caine said daily testing has increased to around 2,500 tests per day.
- In the past week, hospital admissions have also decreased, down to about 18 patients per day, Caine said. Emergency room visits have also started declining.
- Caine re-emphasized school action points. Color-coded levels are based on the positivity rate. For example, a 6-10% positivity rate, which is Yellow level, allows in-person learning for elementary schools and a hybrid model for middle and high schools. If the county hits a 11-12% positivity rate, middle and high school schools must go to online learning.
- As of July, people age 20 to 39 account for 50% of coronavirus cases in Marion County, up from 26% in March.
- There have been 406 complaints related to violating public health orders. Two citations were issued. Violations can be reported by calling 317-221-5500 or by emailing email@example.com.
- The county will now immediately issue $1,000 fines for businesses and venues in violation of public health orders. “The education and warning period is over,” Caine said.
- Fines would increase for repeat violators, and Caine said businesses that are “egregious” violators can be shut down.
- Individuals who violate the mask mandate can also be fined $1,000.
- Caine said there are currently 10 to 20 personnel enforcing public health orders. Caine said the department wants to increase the number of personnel in the field.
- Caine announced that bars and nightclubs will remain closed including 21 and over businesses that did not have a food menu before March 1. This is effective Friday, Aug. 14.
- Outdoor and indoor dining remain at 50% capacity. Full-menu age-restricted restaurants can only operate at 25% indoor capacity. No bar service is permitted.
- School sports can occur but must follow IHSAA guidelines. For example, with football, there must be 6 feet of social distancing at all times in the team box, and masks must be worn at all times on the sidelines.
- No more than 250 people will be allowed in the stands at sporting events. Everyone must wear a mask in the stands.