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Ind. health commissioner implores college students not to pour into bars during holiday break

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Indiana color coded grade 11 18 2020
Many more counties in Indiana have turned to the highest-risk grade for COVID-19 spread.

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (WPTA21) - Indiana Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box during this week's COVID-19 briefing to the public pleaded with college students returning home for Thanksgiving break not to converge on bars in big numbers, knowing such close contact with others could make a growing spread of coronavirus cases even worse.

Governor Eric Holcomb was not physically present at the briefing.

He took part by telephone, saying he and his wife Janet are hunkered down and face testing later in the week to see if they are COVID positive.

Members of the governor's security detail did test positive this week, and Holcomb said some are actually showing symptoms.

There is a big surge in COVID cases statewide.

Now, 91 of 92 counties in Indiana are either color-coded orange or red, the two highest classifications for community spread.

Northeast Indiana has six of 12 counties labeled as red, including Allen, DeKalb, LaGrange, Steuben, Wells and Whitley Counties.

The other six are orange, the next highest level of concern for the virus.

The governor tried to put a positive spin on where the state is headed with the outbreak, but he says citizens of the state have a big part to play in how the story gets written, depending on how diligent they are in obeying social gathering restrictions.

"We can see light at the end of the tunnel. 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," Governor Holcomb said.

The governor did applaud Allen County officials for instituting new restrictions designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 cases.

Tuesday, Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter announced that starting on Sunday there's a hard cap of 100 people on all social gatherings including sporting events, 50 percent capacity for patrons in bars, restaurants and fitness centers, and shutdowns of those businesses between midnight and 5 a.m.

Jeff Neumeyer

Jeff Neumeyer is a reporter for WPTA.

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