Holcomb 20201014

Gov. Eric Holcomb discusses issues facing the state during a session with CNHI newspapers Wednesday morning.

INDIANAPOLIS — State health officials added 28 more COVID-19 deaths in Indiana on Thursday as the state’s seven-day rolling average of new cases of the respiratory disease has doubled in the past three weeks.

The newly recorded deaths raise Indiana’s death toll to 3,864, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus infections, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. That’s an increase of 122 deaths in the past week.

Gov. Eric Holcomb cited the increase in cases on Wednesday when he said he would continue the statewide mask mandate for another month. Holcomb, however, chastised those who resist wearing masks as disregarding the safety of others.

The Health Department’s daily update showed Indiana’s seven-day rolling average of newly confirmed COVID-19 infections reached 1,653 as of Wednesday. That is the highest level the state has seen during the pandemic and marks a doubling from the state’s average of 825 new cases on Sept. 24.

The 1,355 COVID-19 hospitalizations reported as of Wednesday keeps Indiana at its highest level since mid-May. Such hospitalizations have grown by two-thirds since late September when Holcomb decided to lift nearly all state restrictions on businesses and crowd sizes.

In related news, Holcomb has tested negative for COVID-19, his office said Thursday, a day after the state health commissioner announced she was infected.

Holcomb and some of his staff members underwent two types of coronavirus test and all came out negative, according to the governor’s office.

Holcomb has advocated the use of masks to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but has resisted calls to reimpose tougher business and crowd-size restrictions despite a recent sharp rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations and new infections.

Holcomb, 52, wore a mask during an online briefing with reporters from his Statehouse office for the first time on Wednesday. He said he would be undergoing a coronavirus test later that day and that he planned to quarantine at the governor’s residence until he had the results.

Since Holcomb’s negative test results, health officials have told the governor he can return to his normal schedule “with vigilance about masking and social distancing,” the governor’s office said.

Health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announced Wednesday that she, an adult daughter and her 23-month-old grandson tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. Box said she didn’t have any symptoms, while her daughter and grandson had mild symptoms. She believed the infections stemmed from her grandson’s home day care site.

Holcomb said in a statement that he and his wife, Janet, hoped Box and her family make a quick recovery.

“The coronavirus does not discriminate, and this further highlights the importance of wearing masks and social distancing,” he said.

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