FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA21) -- As more Hoosiers are diagnosed with COVID-19 and admitted to hospitals, the Democratic candidate for governor insists that Indiana isn't doing enough to protect its citizens.
"The hospital admissions in recent days are now as high as those seen in late May. This is all further evidence that moving us to Stage 5 was wrong," Dr. Woody Myers said.
Dr. Myers is the Democrat running to unseat Governor Holcomb.
As a physician and former state health commissioner, he's concerned the severe COVID-19 outbreak in southwest Indiana and continuing new cases elsewhere are making the state look bad.
The city of Chicago is "strongly advising" residents not to travel here.
"It's a big, red, flashing sign that says that there is a difference between what Illinois and Chicago are seeing going on in Indiana and what we believe to be going on in Indiana, Chicago is worried about us. Illinois is worried about us because they see our numbers going in the wrong direction and they want to protect themselves," Myers said.
"We have times when we have more hot spots, and other states have times like Illinois where they have more hot spots. So what we can continue to focus on here as the state of Indiana is what we know works, and that is the ability to make sure that we are wearing masks, that we are social distancing, that we are doing the best hand hygiene," said Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box.
Dr. Box agrees that Indiana's numbers continue to rise, and says while non-COVID patients are taking up most of the state's ventilators and ICU beds, she's watching those numbers closely.
And she says the state's COVID mapping is helping pinpoint problem areas.
"We can localize those areas where we know we are having more cases, where we know we are having more hospitalizations, and to work individually with those particular counties or districts to make sure that we address with them those options available to them," Dr. Box said.
Dr. Myers believes local health departments don't need options, they need better guidelines from the CDC and the state.
Both doctors agree that an expected difficult flu season with unchecked COVID cases will strain Indiana's hospitals this fall.
Governor Eric Holcomb did not appear with Dr. Box earlier in the day but did join her later in the afternoon on Facebook.
"So many from all walks different sectors have worked so long so hard to get us in the position that we find ourselves in today. And if I can repeat if I heard you correctly you mention nothing intentional about it . It doesn't matter what community or how small or large, am event, or the venue it could be a funeral it could be a wedding, it could be a football game, and this is both antidotal and through our tracing see that the odds of this virus spreading go up when you let your guard down," Holcomb said.
We reached out to the governor's campaign for response to the specific points Dr. Myers brought up, and Holcomb's office issued this statement:
"Woody is trying to scare Hoosiers. While Governor Holcomb is looking at the data and listening to the doctors to safely get Indiana's economy back on track, Woody Myers wants to shut down Indiana's economy and arrest people for not wearing masks. We've made so much progress compared to other states. Together, we've made it to Stage 5 because of Hoosiers' actions, and it's those same actions that will keep Hoosiers safe and our economy open."