So does today feel any different?
I imagine many Hoosiers are waking up today feeling like there is now a glimmer of hope with the restoration of some kind of normalcy on the horizon as our city, our country and our world continue to try to climb out of this life-altering pandemic.
Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision on Friday to slowly lift restrictions across the state, while still keeping a short-term clamp on hotspots in three counties, probably won’t be met with a tsunami of support (this week’s unscientific InkFreeNews poll on what Holcomb should do was almost evenly divided).
Holcomb’s plan, if all goes well, focuses on a full reopening by July 4.
Unlike some of his neighboring governors in Michigan and Illinois – who are Democrats – Indiana’s Republican governor moved ahead with a series of baby steps in the direction that should please many businesses, workers and church-goers.
And he did so by couching the move by relying on guidelines based in part of science and statistics. He also acknowledged that the plans are tentative and that local jurisdictions can still trump some of his moves.
But as many already realize, opinions about this national health emergency that has killed more than 60,000 (including more than 1,000 Hoosiers), many people have become sharply politicized over the issue – unlike 9/11 and other major tragedies before then.
President Donald Trump, with his unique style of leadership, certainly gets some of the credit in that regard. He’s been more than happy to take that route in his daily media briefings and it has trickled down to the local level. Look no further than some of the reopening protests around the country for proof of that. While their demands for ending restrictions are mostly sincere, those protests look more like political rallies in support of Trump with all the MAGA hats and American flags, wrapped around talk of liberty and independence
Holcomb’s decision is a roll of the dice politically and probably a good one in an election year in which his November opponent, Democrat Dr. Woody Myers, seems to have a scant amount of name recognition outside of central Indiana.
I’m guessing we’ll all know whether it was a good move by August or September.
Meanwhile, here’s a few observations I picked up on late Friday afternoon:
JOE THALLEMER – Warsaw’s Mayor said he and department heads quickly huddled (digitally) Friday afternoon to discuss how the city would respond to Holcomb’s plan. The first order of business is making adjustments in city hall to protect workers as they eventually return to their offices.
He thinks City Hall will be able to fully reopen within four to six weeks.
Thallemer said he thinks the governor’s plan “has been pretty well thought out.”
“My biggest concern is we are an outbreak away from going backward and having a rebound. That’s always a concern,” he said.
“Maybe the end is approachable,” Thallemer said. “I think we all need be very vigilant to continue what we’ve been doing, and hopefully we can get to that July 4 – that would be a fabulous goal.”
BILL DIXON – The Syracuse resident who is challenging State Rep. Curt Nisly in the primary (The winner will face North Webster resident and Democrat Kelly Thompson in the fall), sent out a statement Friday commending Holccomb’s move.
In his statement, Dixon said he fully supports Holcomb’s decision to open the state’s economy in five stages. Kosciusko and southern Elkhart Counties are fortunate to have avoided a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 “as evidenced by low hospitalization rates.”
Here is his entire statement.
He also offered an interesting outlook on the debate over wearing masks. Below is part of that statement:
“I have noticed a certain smug superiority gaining ground as both political extremes weaponize the wearing of a mask. There should be no time or patience for this attitude from either side. This is not about expressing a view. In fact, wearing a mask isn’t about you at all. It is about not giving germs you may or may not have to someone you may or may not know.”
And a final thought from Dixon: “Hoosiers, and rural Midwesterners in general, are known for a high degree of common sense and avoiding drama. Let’s not let the rantings of a few extremists deny us that moniker.”
BRIAN SMITH – Kosciusko County’s Democrat Party Chairman also weighed in quickly and was not pleased. Here’s what he had to say on Facebook.
“First of all, viruses don’t respect county and state boundaries. Expect an influx of people from Chicago. There’s also nothing stopping people in Indy from flooding Carmel restaurants.
Secondly, there’s no way to police the 50% occupancy rule for restaurants. Owners that have been hemorrhaging money for two months will let anyone in that wants in, that’s just how the real world operates.
Lastly, exempting churches from the 25 person social gathering rule defeats the whole purpose.
Expect a surge in Indiana.”
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ONLINE FORUM – While details are still being worked out, I’m told organizers of the forum featuring judicial candidates for Superior Court 3 and two other county races will be held at city hall and streamed online. The event will be May 15.
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Dan Spalding is the editor at InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.