Address to the State Regarding COVID-19
Eric J. Holcomb
Governor of Indiana
March 23, 2020
Remarks as prepared for delivery
If you’re watching this at home, I’m grateful.
That means, hopefully, you’re social distancing, not spreading the contagious coronavirus COVID-19, for which there’s still no cure.
That means, you’re being part of the solution, not the problem.
So on behalf of the state, I thank you.
But because both the infection rate and the death rate continue to climb, Indiana, we need to do more!
Our neighbors and our economy need to see that we’re taking steps that will help flatten curve to ensure our healthcare system is able to treat the most vulnerable.
To best do that, let me lay out five points.
First, as of Tuesday, your state government personnel will not be a reason you have to get out of your house.
The state will be reduced to only the absolute essential workforce level, such as state hospitals, police, prison staff, child protection services, health and our already activated National Guard.
We’ll be maximizing remote work, online and call centers to continue core functions, such as unemployment insurance and welfare applications.
Whatever nonessential state business that has to be conducted in person will have to wait.
Citizens shouldn’t worry!
This means all types of licenses issued by the state will automatically be
extended by 60 days, and law enforcement officials are not going to be
issuing citations, for say, expired drivers licenses or registrations.
Second, let me also say how proud I am of our five central Indiana
In order to expand capacity and enhance coordination and save lives, we’re
activating a comprehensive healthcare-oriented Emergency Operations Center, jointly run by Marion County, our capital city, and the
This center will centrally inventory and provide support for personnel,
supplies (like ventilators, masks, goggles, gloves and gowns and space),
as we move into the patient surge for COVID-19 phase.
By supporting movement and coordination between all hospital systems,
we will not leave any healthcare delivery system alone in their struggle to
take care of Hoosiers, both those affected by the pandemic and those with
I’m thrilled that our hospital systems have once again stepped up to
participate in this innovative initial phase of the process – Eskenazi,
Community, Ascension, IU Health, and Franciscan.
They are all together going to quickly be able to respond to unmet needs
and pool precious resources for the state’s wellbeing.
This is yet another example of Indiana responding to uncommon problems
with uncommon solutions.
Think about this, on March 1, New York had one positive confirmed case of
Today, 22 days later, they have more than 15,000!
And it’s growing, not slowing.
Their hospitals are being overrun.
That’s what we’re trying to manage and avoid, which is why we need to
slow the spread – now.
Yes, we started with the central Indiana hospitals, only because that’s
where we’ve seen the most community spread. Friday, Marion County had
47 positive cases. On Saturday, there were 82. Today, the number is 110.
Overall, three Marion County residents have died.
This hybrid approach will be replicated across the state to ensure we are
the best prepared to address the spread in each quadrant of our state.
Because we know COVID-19 is spreading statewide. On March 6, Indiana
had one positive case. Today, we have 259!
Third, in times of trouble, in times of not being able to be in total control, in
times of such uncertainty, many of us find comfort, find strength – in fact,
we find guidance – in our faith.
Our statewide faith leaders have become in high demand, whether we all
realize it or not.
I want to thank all of our faith leaders who are live-streaming their
I was told yesterday, five central Indiana pastors live-streamed their
sermons to over 50,000 Hoosiers.
If ever there was an essential service, our houses of worship are on the top
of the list, right next to our doctors and nurses.
Thanks to all the faith leaders for realizing the church is a body, not a
building, especially in the difficult and different days ahead.
We’ll get back to the day when we can all join in person, in full force, but
until that day, let’s continue to spread the word – not COVID19!
And fourth, to all our healthcare heroes out there pulling double shifts,
everyday, putting their lives on hold so they can tend to others, this is your
finest hour, and our entire state’s depending on you like never before.
To all the schools and churches and businesses, like Subaru and Toyota
and Fiat Chrysler and the biggest mall owner-operator in the world, Simon
Malls, that have shut down;
To General Motors who is redeploying their Kokomo workforce and
converting their production line to make ventilators;
To all the breweries that have converted their businesses into hand
sanitizer production lines;
To all the manufacturers out there, who have donated their own protective
gear to hospitals and to the state;
To all those businesses that have gone to multiple shifts to spread out the
work and their work forces;
To the union shops who are asking their contractors to drop off the needed
items our hospitals are asking for;
To all the gritty restaurant owners, who are trying to survive by adapting
overnight to a new “to-go only” business model;
(I’ve personally ordered to-go, every day to support our local entrepreneurs
during these tough unprecedented times);
And I know, large and long-established restaurants have gone from – one
told me the other day – 56 employees to four.
Small family-owned diners have closed. Without the tables turning, they
can’t afford staff, let alone the light bill or rent.
So, to everyone who’s been playing by the rules, to all those companies
contributing to our war effort to slow the spread – we say thank you!
Ladies and gentlemen, we owe it to our private sector, the ones who risk
their capital, and put in endless work days and nights – who were taken for granted during all those good times, when our economy was booming, just
two weeks ago.
We owe it to them to get through this as fast as we can.
It was for that reason that last week, I directed that for restaurants and bars
to remain open, they must pivot to carry-out only.
Yet a week later, we know that’s not being followed by all.
And we know it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bushel.
We know, one infected person infects two, and those two infect two more –
and so on, and so on.
Today, I signed an Executive Order that instructs the ATC to suspend any
and all food and beverage licenses for those who violate the order.
Additionally, I’ve signed another Executive Order that calls on all Hoosiers
to hunker down, stay at home, unless you’re going out on an essential
errand, or essential work or essential business and operations.
Other states have recently come out with similar directives.
Ohio has stay at home. Kentucky yesterday evening rolled one out.
Illinois a few days before them both.
We’re all seeing the same trends or waves coming, especially in the dense
areas, but it is spreading to all counties. So, stay home, get groceries only
when you really need them and buy only what you really need.
I’m telling you, the next two weeks are critical – that’s March 24 through
April 7 – if we’re going to slow the spread, and we must slow the spread.
My fellow Hoosiers, the State of our State is in a much different place than
when I gave that annual address just over two months ago in January.
But because we were one of the most recession-resilient states in America
going into this, I know we’ll bounce back better than some others.
We’ll continue to work with our federal partners at FEMA, the Army Corps
of Engineers, the CDC, HHS, the President and Vice President, and our
own congressional delegation, on both sides of the aisle, to get the
financial help to the people most in need – and get it there now.
A year ago last week, we had 3,100 Hoosiers file for unemployment
Fast forward exactly a year later. Last week we had over 54,000 Hoosiers
file for help.
And so whether you’re an employee or employer, whether you’re dealing
with mental, physical, or financial health issues, whether you’re a small
town or big city, the state of Indiana will work with our federal partners as
we steer through the rocky, shallow waters ahead.
And, lastly, fifth, here’s something you don’t often hear from elected
officials, but it needs to be said.
I want to thank our local press corps for putting out critically important
information on the effects and impacts of the coronavirus.
Make no mistake about it, this disease is killing people.
Time is of the essence.
And the best thing we can do for each other, for this generation, and for our
economy, is to get a handle on the virus by slowing the spread.
That’s what we have power over.
That’s the power of one, and what you can do.
That’s your power.
And that’s the power, that together, we’ll remain Indiana strong!