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Marion County officials not ready to reopen as they continue to monitor data

Posted at 10:00 AM, Jun 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-22 22:12:55-04

INDIANAPOLIS — People waiting for COVID-19 restrictions to be lifted in Marion County will have to wait a little longer.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine did not announce any changes to health regulations at a news conference Tuesday.

Instead, they talked about the progress being made in Marion County when it comes to the fight against the virus, even as the county's vaccination rate has slowed.

"Herd immunity is not a switch," she said. "It is a gradient and, ultimately, the decision to reopen is not about whether we surpass one particular metric, whether the level of protection from the virus in our community can prevent significant spread and outbreaks."

Currently, 39% of Marion County residents have received the COVID-19 vaccine. Caine acknowledged the county would not reach her goal of 50% full vaccination by July 4, but she said that is not the only number on her department's radar.

In addition to vaccines, Caine said officials are studying the number of people who have already had COVID-19 in the county as a way to determine the likelihood of community spread.

Caine said she hopes to still be able to announce a reduction in restrictions by July 4.

The current capacity limits were approved at the June 7 meeting of the City-County Council. They include:

  • Indoor services at bars, restaurants and other businesses operate at 75% capacity.
  • Personal service businesses are not required to operate by appointment-only, but capacity should allow for six feet between vaccinated clients.
  • Entertainment and cultural venues can host up to 75% capacity.
  • Religious services and funerals can host 100% capacity.
  • Indoor sporting events will be allowed to host 50% capacity.
  • Capacity limits on large gatherings are limited to 500 people.

Both Hogsett and Caine referenced the Delta variant, which is prevalent among people under the age of 50 and which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects to become the dominant strain in the United States.

Hogsett people who continue to reject the vaccine are missing out on the benefits the shot offers while also imposing a burden on themselves and the health care system.

"Those who remain unvaccinated will still suffer COVID's worst effects if they become infected, all the while potentially spreading it to others," Hogsett said. "So those who remain unvaccinated suffer the worst of COVID's effects, then unknowingly, perhaps unwittingly, are spreading it the virus to others."

Watch the news conference in the player below.