Gov. Eric Holcomb 10-27-2020 debate AP Photo Darron Cummings

Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb participates in the Indiana gubernatorial debate with Democrat Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater on Tuesday. Holcomb was in Elkhart on Friday.

ELKHART — Gov. Eric Holcomb on Friday said the Elkhart County Health Department should not base decisions about COVID-19 restrictions on the potential political implications, including the governor’s own reelection chances.

His comments came after ECHD spokesperson Melanie Sizemore said Wednesday that the department will not reintroduce restrictions until after the election. She specifically mentioned the governor, who is up for reelection on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

“That could be a political disaster for him, meaning he could lose the election,” Sizemore said.

Holcomb, visiting Elkhart on Friday, said those concerns should play no role for the ECHD or the state.

“They absolutely should not have a political calculation on a global pandemic and its impact on our citizens. Our decisions – local, state – should be based on the facts and science and medical direction,” Holcomb said.

But Holcomb, who imposed a stay-at-home order in the spring and continued other regulations until September, will not bring those restrictions back, even though both Elkhart County and Indiana have significantly more cases than at any previous point and are also seeing an uptick in deaths.

He said the state was in a different position early on in the pandemic, so the need for restrictions was greater. There was not as much personal protective equipment available, businesses had not yet found ways to operate safely, and it was unclear to what degree hospitals could take in people who were sick.

“A lot of that has now, for the better, improved to the point where we can manage our way through this,” he said.

But Elkhart County has more COVID-19 inpatients than ever before, to a degree that Elkhart General is above normal capacity and has to cut elective procedures. At 58, about a third of all inpatients at Elkhart General are there for COVID-19. Goshen Hospital has 33 COVID-19 inpatients.

Trusting Hoosiers

Another reason why new restrictions are not necessary statewide, according to Holcomb, is that Hoosiers now know that they should wear masks, social distance and wash their hands frequently. The governor praised the Elkhart County Health Department for its efforts to educate the public on that. But the Health Department is continuing the effort without believing in its effects.

“I don’t think we’re changing anybody’s minds,” Sizemore, the department’s spokesperson, said Wednesday.

Holcomb didn’t answer yes or no when asked whether he thinks the message is getting through to anyone who does not already believe it. Instead, he said, “I refuse to give up.”

The governor did not say whether he thinks Elkhart County should impose its own restrictions but said that different levels of government, including counties, cities and schools, have the option to adjust their approach to what is happening in their specific communities. He said he trusts Hoosiers to do their part of the work to defeat the coronavirus and that those who choose not to take the virus seriously only prolong the pandemic.

Throughout the pandemic, people working in manufacturing have contacted The Elkhart Truth, telling stories of employers not following COVID-19 guidelines. But since many are afraid to lose the jobs that they depend on, most decline to speak on the record. Some choose to report their employees to the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that Indiana has received more than 4,000 complaints about coronavirus-related workplace safety, which is more than three times the number of all complaints in a normal year. According to the Post, the state is conducting 17 on-site inspections, all of which are still ongoing. But according to Holcomb, OSHA has the resources to handle the situation.

He said what he hears and has seen when visiting businesses is that the COVID-19 protocols are working.

“They have figured out a way that, that’s the safest place people are all day,” he said.

If businesses are found to not be operating safely, it is up to the counties to use fines to make them comply or, ultimately, shut them down, Holcomb said. The state is there to help counties make those decisions.

Holcomb likely to win

Holcomb was in Elkhart on Friday as a part of a tour of the state, mostly to sit down with journalists, but also to be at a few events. He held no events in Elkhart County, which he is almost certain to win.

Being opposed in this election by Democrat Woody Myers, who has criticized the governor’s lack of coronavirus-related restrictions; and Libertarian Donald Rainwater, who has run a surprisingly successful campaign based on his opposition to coronavirus-related restrictions, Holcomb is selling himself to Hoosiers as the Goldilocks governor: not too much, not too little, but just right.

Rainwater is scheduled to attend an event Sunday in Elkhart County.

Holcomb was relatively unknown by Hoosiers before the pandemic but will likely defeat both of his opponents easily, as a recent Cygnal poll among 600 likely voters found he had 47 percent support. Another 29 percent say they support Myers, while 15 percent support Rainwater and 10 percent were undecided.

Election Day is Nov. 3. The deadline to request an absentee-by-mail ballot has passed, and mailed ballots must be at the Elkhart County Clerk’s Office on or before Election Day. Having the envelope postmarked for Election Day is not enough.

In-person absentee voting is open until Monday, Nov. 2, at noon. Absentee voting locations are listed on the Elkhart County Clerk’s Office website.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

(19) comments

Joe King

If you want to hear what the scientist and health officials working for trump and his administration have say about trump and his epic failure towards Covid19... Watch "Totally Under Control" . Film was made in secret over the last 5 months.

Here is the Trailer: https://youtu.be/Ut4QjbruS50

Here, you can watch it for free: https://youtu.be/3EJ2B8x8zSw

This is what happens when politics get in the way of science. As just yesterday Trump mocks Dr. Fauci as his crowd chants "Fire Fauci"...the pandemic specialist....let that sink in. Trump lied, and over 231,000 have died.

sidearm

Ok Joe, another Biden campaign speech. No facts just opinions. Please show us the study of the 700 deaths caused by the rallies. Did they do studies on the effect of the riots that continue to happen on a daily basis, thought not. You are sounding a little desperate Joe, what are you afraid of? The race getting too close for comfort?

Joe King

Standford Study. https://sebotero.github.io/papers/COVIDrallies_10_30_2000.pdf

(Edited by staff.)

Joe King

We have 4% of the worlds population, yet we have 20% the world’s covid cases...let that sink in when you think trump is doing all he can do...

sidearm

You are either the smartest human being in the world or an idiot, You cannot stop or kill a virus. The president is doing all he can to minimize the problem and keep our economy intact. So Joe, how would you stop it? Don’t tell me wear a cloth mask cause that does not stop it.

Joe King

Hey Sidearm...got Polio? Yeah, thought not. Yeah science. The trouble with science deniers including trump and his enablers....they don't know or care how it works. You stop a virus with a vaccine. Duh..... You control a virus spread by taking precautions....duh..... wear a mask, wash your hands, keep a distance. It is that simple....really it is...when people don't do it, it spreads....

fire111

And we know that because? Joe! How many deaths in Russia, China, India, North Korea, and Iran? No reporting from them. Nor could we believe them!!! Anyway Joe deaths have dropped tremendously!

Joe King

100,000 new cases today....it is not going away and we have not rounded the corner like trump says...the governor should step up and act like Michigan’s governor and be proactive and try to get ahead...he is reacting and shifting all responsibility to local governments...and they are afraid to act because it will make them look bad....good it should trump and Holcomb are failing at their job. Vote them out! Get new leadership in.

sidearm

Oh my, same speech every day. It is a virus, it does not care who is in charge, it will run it’s course. Two ways to look at the results. Trump is in charge and killed 225000 people or Trump is in charge and saved 2,000,000 people of the 2,200,000 people the “scientists” told us would die if he did nothing.The severity of the virus seems to be diminishing or we are getting better at treating it as fewer and fewer people are dying and most that are dying are doing so for other reasons than the virus itself.

Your daily attacks on the President are nothing more than politics at it’s worst. You have tried everything to get rid of Mr Trump and this is all you have left. Check out Biden’s plan to deal with COVID. It is no different than what is already being done today. There seems to be no difference in results from states like Michigan that have suffered extreme lockdowns and Indiana where we have had responsible leadership and kept our economy in much better shape. You are not being honest by blaming this on Mr Trump but you are not trying to be honest, you are trying to scare people into voting for a socialist leader. Most of us in Indiana are not scared and will vote for Mr Trump.

Joe King

It’s not the same speech....yea h day there are more cases. Each day there are more deaths. Each day trump parades around not wearing a mask and making fun of joe for wearing one and following the cdc recommendations...something trump does not..either he is unwilling to and chooses not to do. This is not a leader leading by example. He lied to us in the beginning and told others in private the truth. You seemed to be worried more about the economy than people? A new study was released linking Trump rallies to over 30,000 cases and ultimately led to over 700 deaths... this is not the only thing, just the most pressing since 230,000 Americans have died on his watch...there is the economy that tanked and highest unemployment since the Great Depression because of this, trumps failed trade war with China causing trump to give out farm subsidies...wait? I thought you were against socialism? You are ok with trump socialist farm subsidies? There is the failed environmental plan, there is the social unrest and his failure to unite and bring the country back...put COVID-19 is the most pressing, it’s not politics, it a virus. If he would have listened to scientists and health official earlier the numbers would have been lower..like the rest of the world....covid fatigue is setting and causing their numbers to rise...and they are dealing with it again....again....while we haven’t dealt with it in the first place as good as we should...this is the United States biggest failure in modern day history....wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands, change your clocks, and change our leadership Tuesday. Vote for a change.

correction

Joes basement has got to be freezing. Prime breeding ground for the China virus.

Revolution 1776

I agree with side arm

RasmusSJorgensen Staff
RasmusSJorgensen

Revolution 1776, it is not accurate that everything is COVID-19, or that the coronavirus is the common cold. If you want to stay up to date on the flu in Indiana, you can do so at the link below. There you will see that Indiana has had slightly more cases reported now than at the same point in the previous flu season. At his point last season, there had been two deaths. In the whole 2019-2020 season, the state had 132 flu deaths. Four weeks into the flu season this year, there have been none.

You can see that all for yourself here: https://www.in.gov/isdh/22104.htm

NewsontheGo

You are so right Joe. Keep using your voice to speak truth to power. With flu season upon us it is shaping up to be a horrible, deadly, sad winter. The Doctors from Elkhart and Goshen hospitals are sounding the alarm but most don't seem to be paying attention.

sidearm

You lost me at truth to power. You wouldn’t know the truth if it bit you. Other doctors are warning of the effects of prolonged shut downs on mental health, drug and alcohol abuse, spousal abuse etc. And you are afraid of a virus that unless your immune system is very severely compromised will not kill you. Did you get your flu shot? Ask your doctor to explain what is actually in the shot, you will be surprised.

Revolution 1776

How many flu cases are being reported ? Oh I forgot , everything is covid ( the common cold ) now .

fire111

Get a flu shot!

Revolution 1776

No , we need herd immunity & get more education on getting vitamin d & zinc I to the system . What is sweden's daily deaths rate these days ?

Joe King

Please educate yourself on how heard immunity works. heard immunity only works if everyone gets the virus or a large percentage get the virus and there is a vaccine. If your plan is for everyone to get the virus, then you are assuming 1-3% of the population will die. 1% of the US population 3.2 million. This will not work until there is a vaccine and everyone takes it....this theory has been shot down world wide.....it won't work....

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