INDIANAPOLIS — As he's been asking Hoosiers to do throughout the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Eric Holcomb is staying home on quarantine after being exposed to person positive for the virus.
The governor's office announced Nov. 17 that Holcomb had been identified as a close contact of members of his Indiana State Police security detail who have tested positive for COVID-19 recently.
Holcomb, who called in to Nov. 18's statewide news conference from the governor's mansion, reported that he and his wife, Janet, will be practicing what he's been preaching.
“Janet and I are now compelled to hunker down. We're both in good health as I speak, we're both doing fine, but we were and are have been close contacts so we'll do the right thing and stay home just as we've been asking everyone to do,” Holcomb said. “I listen and follow the blunt directions I receive from Dr. Box.”
Holcomb said he will be tested later this week on advice from Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box, as Box said it's best to get tested a few days after exposure to allow the virus to incubate if infected and therefore be more likely to be detected on testing.
Holcomb then pivoted off that update to point out how prevalent the virus has become in Indiana.
“I'm particularly concerned and we talk about this quite a bit about the rising hospitalizations and capacity to be able to treat COVID and non-COVID patients for that matter,” Holcomb said. “There is a cause and effect to all of this.”
Holcomb laid out a long chain of events and the impacts they have — wide community spread leads to more cases, which leads to more hospitalizations, which leads to beds being filled and hospitals having to cancel treatment for other non-emergency patients or reschedule appointments.
To the everyday person, more cases means more exposures, which means more quarantines, which means more students out of school and adults out of the workplace, which strains employers and affects their ability to conduct business.
And, of course, with more cases and more hospitalizations have come more deaths.
“We also see the death rate rising and so I just want to — I don't think I can beat on that drum hard enough — with every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” Holcomb said.
Vaccines are showing promise and could start rolling out soon, but likely won't be available to the wider public until 2021, so the next few months are critical to get the ongoing surge under control.
“The key is how we get through the next few months until there is widespread distribution of a vaccine or vaccines,” Holcomb said. “What we do between now and basking in that light, so to speak, as I always say, is going to be largely dependent on how we safely negotiate our way through the coming weeks and months.”